Q and A with Maritzburg defender John Paintsil
15 September 2014
Maritzburgunited.co.za chatted to former Ghana international defender John Paintsil to get his thoughts on the season so far, and why he came to South Africa…
The well-travelled defender joined Maritzburg United in the off-season, having spent last season at National First Division side Santos. Paintsil, who played for the likes of West Ham United and Fulham, has settled in quickly at the Team of Choice, and has played an important part in what has been a bright start to the season for the PMB outfit.
Maritzburgunited.co.za: Your arrival at the club has coincided with a very good start for the Tea, of Choice, who find themselves in fourth spot after six rounds of action. Your impressions so far?
John Paintsil: So far I am very happy at the club, and the setup we have here. People have seen this as a small club, but not for me. I believe that the players are making this a big club, and that teams are now scared to face us.
It was a pity that we could not convert the draw with Aces last weekend into a win, but we cannot let that get us down. We must learn from our mistakes, listen to and abide by what the coach tells us. We must keep our confidence levels up, and keep on pushing to work even harder and to keep our focus throughout the season – I always tell my team-mates, the league is a marathon, and that its about consistency; you can’t let oneself to overly affected by individual results. If we keep our focus and work hard, we have every reason to believe a top five finish is possible.
Maritzburgunited.co.za: As a defender, Maritzburg’s record of conceding only three goals in six games must be pleasing to you?
John Paintsil: Yes, it’s important to keep some clean sheets throughout the season. The defence has done well so far – if you don’t concede a goal, you always have a chance of winning a game. We are also scoring goals, so it’s looking good at both end of the pitch so far.
Maritzburgunited.co.za: You played against Orlando Pirates in last season’s Nedbank Cup. Now you get to play against Kaizer Chiefs in the league next week….
John Paintsil: Yes, it’s a game I’m looking forward to, a game we are all looking forward to. Chiefs are on top of the log at the moment, which means we will be underdogs away from home. But we must not be overawed by who we are playing, we will treat them with respect but we must treat this gaem as we would any other league match, where our aim must be t get the three points on offer.
Maritzburgunited.co.za: Did you know much about teams like Chiefs or Pirates, or indeed, the Premier Soccer League, before you joined came to South Africa last year?
John Paintsil: When I was still in England, looking for a team, I was lookimg at joining a club in Africa. I was thinking about Ghana and Zimbabwe at that stage. But after watching a Zimbabwean on TV, I also saw the Soweto derby between Chiefs and Pirates. I noticed how the stands were full, how the people were happpy, the standard of play, he experience and technical ability on the field and I was very impressed and thought to myself that I wouldn’t hesitate to come to South Africa.
When the chance came to play for Santos last season, I was happy to play in the NFD, so that I could adjust to the standard of play in South Africa, and to see if I had what it takes to play at PSL level.
Maritzburgunited.co.za: Having international players like yourself coming to play in South Africa certainly adds something to the PSL. Why did you decide to return to Africa in the first place?
I think its always good that when players who have made it in Europe, come back to play in Africa, because it can inspire the youngsters who watched us on TV, and we can share our experience with the up-and-coming players. And socially football has given us players a lot, so it is only right that we do our best to give something back; for me it was an honour and great opportunity to return to African to play my football.