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Roger De Sa, Calvin Johnson outline recipe for South Africa's continental success

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Coach Roger de Sa of Cape Umoya United FC in October, 2018. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)
Coach Roger de Sa of Cape Umoya United FC in October, 2018. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Success in the major African competitions has been few and far between for South Africa's biggest clubs, and two leading coaches believe a refocus is required to compete with the North African giants.

Speaking exclusively on the Vodacom Sisonke Diski Chat podcast, Roger de Sa and Cavin Johnson gave clear reasons for where they believe South African clubs are falling short of continental glory and how to change this.

Based on his experience, De Sa, who recently served as an assistant coach for Egypt national team assistant coach, said the logistical challenges posed by playing in Africa should not be underestimated, and South African clubs need to plan better for this.

"That balance of playing domestically and playing in continental competitions places a massive amount of strain on the team," the former Orlando Pirates mentor said.

"Those games in Africa drain you. As much as you think it's just a 90-minute football match, it isn't. There is a lot of travelling."

Both coaches believe that South African giants such as Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates - who recently made the CAF Confederation Cup final - have the potential to be dominant in Africa.

However, adequate preparation and financial investment are just as key to this process as well as a change in the mindsets of both the players and the fans.

"You've got to prepare your team five or three years in advance as to what you want to achieve in Africa and how you're going to achieve it," said Johnson, who was Pitso Mosimane's assistant for one season at Egyptian giants Al Ahly.

"The financial part of it takes the biggest knock in order to play in these competitions, so you need to get your team sponsored properly for this. The mentality of the players is also key.

"The diversity we have in our country at the moment is not yet there. We don't have enough history in a lot of the teams that push the players to play in the Champions League.

"The Champions League is something that you've got to be proud of. The North African teams thrive on this, and their countries understand what it is to play in the Champions League."

Johnson also believes South African teams need to focus more on the commitment to the magnitude and status of the African competitions.

"Al Ahly have the best players, and they have a 109-year history behind them. There is so much culture in what it means to play for Al Ahly.

"Players know they are in this team to win everything because that's what they've been doing for 60-70 years, and they have 60 million people behind them that push them all the time.

"The media there is crazy, the way they hound you and push you all the time, and that is the culture we need to get. We need to get the players to understand that playing for Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates is not a normal club.

"It's a club where for eight months of your life it's football. There's no Instagram or TikTok. There's nothing like that at Al Ahly. There is that pressure of playing for a big club. Our players need more of that. We need to be more hungry."

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