Tuks coach Tisane Motaung is unfazed about playing in what’s supposed to be the ‘group of death’ at the USSA Football Tournament in Port Elizabeth from Monday.
His confidence sprouts from having done his homework; he’s a firm believer in not leaving anything to chance.
For this reason, he has taken time out to study up on some of the teams Tuks will play during the USSA Tournament.
‘I got a pretty good idea of what some of the team’s strong points and weaknesses are and what we should do to have a realistic chance to beat them.’
Another reason for Motaung’s confidence is that 95% of the players who played for Tuks during last year’s tournament are available to take to the field.
Lawrence Ntswane, who captained the team to the USSA final and a victory in the Varsity Tournament last year, will still be leading from the front.
In last year’s USSA final, Tuks lost dramatically to TUT as the game was decided in a penalty shootout.
This time round Tuks are in the same pool as Wits, Vaal Northwest University, Vaal Tech University and the University of Zululand.
‘I will be honest. The USSA Tournament is possibly one of the toughest student tournaments because if you get to play the final, it means the team will play seven games in five days.
‘It’s a given that every team is going to be gunning for Tuks. That’s just how it is. Tuks are the team that everyone wants to beat. For this reason, we focused a lot on making sure that the players are physically and mentally up to the challenge.’
Motaung referred to Germany’s performance at the World Cup as to what can go wrong if a coach and his players get overconfident.
‘Germany were the defending champions. Their build-up to the tournament was near perfect. I think they could have won 18 games on the trot, but then they got unstuck when it mattered, and now they are out of the World Cup.
‘That is why I always emphasise to the players that any team is only as good as the last game they played.’
Nhlanhla Mabaso and Dylan Murchie are two young players who, according to Motaung, have what it take to become game changers at crucial moments.
Motaung says he’ll also be relying heavily on the skills of Claudio de Almeida in the USSA and Varsity Tournaments.
‘When I select a team, Claudio’s name is usually one of the first that I will write down. As far as I’m concerned, he was one of the best players in last year’s Varsity Tournament – a real playmaker.’
Motaung also makes no secret of the fact that he values Ntswane’s abilities as a player and captain.
‘He’s an outstanding captain who leads from the front. More importantly is the fact that he does take control on and off the field. Being very vocal helps because his teammates know what to do at any given moment. Being so tall is another definite asset.’
USSA Tuks squad: Athenkosi Jojo, Giovanni Idi, Yurie Mortimer, Lawrence Ntswane, Chinedu Okolo, Jurgen Booysen, Richard Moremi, Tshimologo Huma, Sabelo Tsambo, Odwa Makha, Jeremiah Nkwana, Dylan Murchie, Lebohang Montueli, Nhlanhla Mabaso, Claudio De Almeida, Katlego Motlhatsang, Frank Mpedi, Clement Malemone, Simbongile Njokwe, Siphesihle Sosibo
Photo: Tuks coach Motaung, by Reg Caldecott