Relaxed Bafana ready for action

2010-06-10 00:00

THE Bafana Bafana players have lived a regimental lifestyle, though one not complicated by stress and outside pressures, in their training camps in Brazil, Germany and now Johannesburg

A day in the life of a Bafana squad member at present consists of a training session a day, and the rest of their schedule structured around it.

“If the players have a morning training session, then they have a wake-up call at 8.30 am, breakfast at 9 am and by 9.30 am they are on the bus to training,” Bafana media liaison Matlhomola Morake said yesterday.

“They come back at around 11 am and have lunch at about 12.30 pm. All meals are held together. The afternoons, when there are no team meetings, are usually free.

“The players usually shoot some pool or play table tennis. Then there is dinner and lights-off is by 10.30 pm.”

Morake said when Bafana have an afternoon session — usually at 3.30 pm — they wake up at 10.30 am and mornings are free.

The players cut relaxed figures as they mill around the foyer of their Southern Sun hotel in Grayston Drive in Sandton.

“Absolutely, the players are very relaxed,” Morake said. “I think it’s because they’ve won their past few games, which helps a lot with the mood.”

While all the Bafana coaching staff, from coach Carlos Parreira to assistants Pitso Mosimane and Jairo Leal, have played a key role in the side’s turnaround in form, an unsung hero is fitness trainer Francesco Gonzalez.

Known as one of the best physical trainers in Brazil, Gonzalez has worked on programmes that have seen previously jaded local-based players such as Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala rejuvenated.

Players such as Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Thanduyise Khuboni have performed well in Bafana’s warm-up matches largely due to their physical condition.

Gonzalez has also had to establish individual programmes to integrate overseas-based players in the past month who joined the camp at different levels of fitness, with some having been first-team regulars at their clubs and others bench warmers.

“Now is the time to see who needs to be pushed a bit more, who needs less so that when we start the competition everyone will stay on the same level,” Gonzalez told The Witness.

“The players who joined us late from overseas have started to reach the same level as the rest. I think by the time the competition starts all the players will be the same.”

He said the local-based players were not in a poor condition before the training camps, but needed to go up a level to compete in a World Cup.

“If you get players from any local competition, in Brazil or Germany, the players are at a certain level. But in the World Cup you need more because you are competing against the best players in the world, who are in the best condition.”

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