There was a lot of hard work done during the off-season, including the acquisition of nine exciting new players.
Team of Choice CEO Younus Kadodia was first to address the press conference, and spoke of the club’s determination to ensure that there is a marked improvement on last season when they narrowly escaped relegation.
“On behalf of the chairman and the board of directors it gives me great pleasure to once again introduce you to our head coach, Eric Tinkler, and a host of new signings whom you’ll get to meet shortly,” Kadodia said.
“I would like to firstly say a big thank you to all our key stakeholders – Msunduzi Municipality, sponsors, partners, fans, and the media for your continued support. We’re grateful for your contribution to the sport and we look forward to working with you in the new campaign.
“The Team of Choice endured one of its toughest ever seasons in 2018/ 19, and it was encouraging to see how everyone at the club pulled together to save our top flight status.
“We have some big plans for the upcoming campaign, and we believe with our current squad, boosted by the new recruits, coach Eric will continue the good work which he started last season.
“To all our new signings, welcome to the Team of Choice, and I would like to wish you all the best for the season ahead.
“A packed Harry Gwala Stadium is one of the best venues in the country, and I’m sure you guys will thrive here.
“Our vision has always been for the club to constantly improve and play an attractive brand of football,” Kadodia concluded.
Head coach Eric Tinker then spoke enthusiastically about the potential he sees in the newly assembled squad, and is especially pleased with the depth of choice.
“When I look at the squad right now, what we’ve assembled with the new players we have brought in, I think we have created a very competitive squad,” he said.
“We have two players in each position, and either of those two players could be in the starting line-up. So we’ve created a very competitive environment which is important for moving forward.
“Obviously we want to improve on last season, we don’t want to find ourselves sitting at the bottom of the table, so it was very, very important for the club to strengthen, and I think the players we brought in will do that.
“My personal ambition is to try and finish in the top eight. That will be the main target, to go for the top eight. But as the club stated, our first objective is to improve on last season. In this regard its key how we start the new season.”
The Maritzburg tactician went on to introduce the new recruits and to explain the reasons behind their respective signings.
Phumlani Ntshangase: "I’ve known him since my time at Wits, from the age of 14. He’s also a KwaZulu-Natal born player. We needed to bring in another defensive midfielder and because I know he’s a great professional, he was one of our first choices.
Kwanda Mngomnyama: "Kwanda actually came to the club and asked if he could come back. We welcomed him with open arms, he loves the football club. He’s a great footballer, a great defender.
Judas Moseamedi: "He joined the club on loan last season from Cape Town City and was instrumental in us remaining in the league with the very important goals he scored for us. So for me it was a no-brainer to get him in full time and hopefully Judas can replicate what he did last season.
Gabriel Nyoni: "I call him Mr Blitz! He’s got a lot of pace. Technically gifted, an extremely ambitious and intelligent young man and I think he is going to benefit the team immensely.
Dan Morgan: "He was playing at Auckland City. We watched video footage of him, and we brought him in to see how he would adapt to the South African environment. We’re very happy to have him, he’s a left-back who can also play on the wing, and who is very good on set piece delivery.
Micah Lea'alafa: "The first Solomon Islands professional footballer ever - we were impressed with the videos, a lot of pace and speed and he’s impressed since arriving here, so we’re very happy to have him. He can play as a striker, as a withdrawn striker, or wide, a lot of versatility.
Yusuf Jappie: "A young boy I’ve known since the age of 10, he used to come visit us at Wits. Great left foot, deadly on the set-pieces, corners, crosses, likes to get forward, likes to score goals. A young boy, still learning, but I see a bright future for him.
Daylon Claasen: "Played in Europe, came back and played for Wits, for me when I heard he was available, it was a no-brainer. We needed someone who could play through the midfield, a box-to-box midfielder, so it was very easy to bring him in.
Thami Sangweni: "Someone who I coached before, at Chippa. I also coached his brother. A great inclusion, we know what his capabilities are, and I think he has an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong.
“We’re very happy with the signings. You speak to the players here, they look at the squad now and they say ‘this is going to be tough to get into that starting line-up’. That’s obviously what we want.
“It’s a headache for me as a head coach, but a good headache, that will leave me smiling before match days, knowing that not only do I have a strong XI, but I’m going have a good bench as well. And at any stage players can come on and change the game for us,” the coach concluded.
The Team of Choice begin their season on August 4, with an Absa Premiership KZN derby away at Golden Arrows.