6 January 2008

Igesund - we are in this together

Coach Gordon Igesund states that with high levels of commitment from his players, and the support of management, fans and the people of Pietermaritzburg, the Team of Choice can enjoy a successful 2009.

If the coach’s positivity, enthusiasm and determination are anything to go by, 2009 should bring about positive changes as the Team of Choice as they look to build on the foundations laid in the first half of the season.

Having returned to the PSL after promotion from the first division (in which the play-offs were delayed), the Team of Choice were at an immediate disadvantage as they had a limited time period to assemble a new team and prepare for the season ahead.

Igeund admits that his side have endured a tough ride so far this season as numerous new signings meant that the team virtually had to start from scratch.

He is of the belief though that the first half of the season, while at times difficult for the newly-assembled outfit, have seen the team lay the ground work from which they can go from strength to strength in the future.

”I only had a few weeks to prepare for the new campaign, while other clubs had already been training together for months

"We always knew that the first season would be tough - anyone who knows football knows that it takes at least a year to 18 months to build a team. Myself and management were never under any illusions that everything would just fall into place overnight,” said a straight-talking Igesund

He also points out that at times cohesion in the team has been lacking, a result of some of the players having had so little game time between themselves.

“It has been difficult with so many new players in the team - it takes a while for players to understand each other, especially between defenders and the goal keeper. That is why silly mistakes have crept in - we have often dominated games possession wise and played extremely good football, but our inexperience together as a team has counted against us as we have not gone on to convert our superiority into points.”

Promises of a top eight finish are not being made by Igesund - he is being honest and realistic - the main aim is Premier League survival, with a mid table finish a bonus.

Igesund wanted to stress that the club’s management are not trying to pull the wool over supporters eye’s – he concedes that he team has a battle on their hands, but is confident that they can pull through, especially if unity amongst all those involved with the club prevails.

“We have never tried to kid anyone with lofty ambitions - our aim has been to end in mid-table and build from that.

The four-time title winning coach is of the firm opinion that United will enjoy success albeit not overnight, and he believes that the team's die-hard supporters will be a key element of future success at the club.

“At other clubs, supporters often turn against the team when results are not going the team's way, but I must thank our fans, as well as the club directors, for their patience in understanding that what we are building here is going to take time and for recognising the hard work and effort we are putting in.”

Underling the team's determination to achieve improved results on the field is the fact that the players only enjoyed a couple of days off during the Christmas recess, while the staff barely had a break at all.

“We have hardly had a break over Christmas - the team has been working very, very hard to prepare ourselves. We had a friendly against AmaZulu and I was very impressed with the performance of the team.

“I have been really pleased with the response and attitude of the players, they know they have hard work ahead of them, but they have buckled down and really
applied themselves - I can assure everyone involved with this club and all our supporters that the players are all giving 1000% commitment.”

Of upcoming concern to Igesund and his charges is getting through a busy January period, in which they have some big challenges ahead, including the likes of Swallows, Pirates, Ajax, Chiefs and SuperSport United.

“We have a tough run - about six games before the end of January, but if we can pick up a few good results we could really momentum. And after a few away games, we also have a host of home games, including matches against Free State Stars, Celtic, SuperSport, Wits and Ajax.

“With our fanatical and loyal supporters behind us, who serve as a 12th player, we can really use this period to rack up some home points which will set us on our way for the remainder of the season.”