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Inside The Free State Stars Camp!

In this week's DoRego's blog, Free State Stars' Mbhuyiselo Sambu gives up a look inside the team's camp!

The Nedbank Cup loss to Bloemfontein Celticwas disappointing, of course, to lose again against Celtic. You know, game ya rona le bona (our game against them) was tough. But we prepared so well for them. We know how they play and they don’t normally change much. We tried so hard to really stop whatever we could. We managed to get a goal, but you know football is something else. You dominate the game, you miss chances and end up not winning. I think we had chances to win it, but we were left disappointed in the end. The coach didn’t say much after the game. He just told us about the chances that were missed and that we need to improve on it. He tried to encourage us and told us not to lose focus in the league. 

As much as Celtic look like they are winning almost every time they play against us, I feel that we were just unfortunate, especially in the cup games. I mean, we beat them in the league. In the cup games we made some small errors. You know, it’s very disappointing, because every time we play these derbies the management really try to emphasise the importance of winning against Celtic. We always go out there to make sure that we win. Sometimes it’s no longer about only winning, as there are some other factors like if you win the game, you get more recognition in the Free State. 

On the Free State derby,I think it all depends on how you really market the game and sell it to the people out there, so that you create that vibe. Even though people go to these derbies, it doesn’t have that thing that, ‘You know what, this is the derby!’ It doesn’t attract enough attention from the fans. You know, if Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are going to play, you know about it from Monday to Friday. We need to create that vibe between the two teams. I think if we can sell our games and tell people that on Saturday it’s Celtic against Free State Stars, it will make a difference. I think that’s what we need to do in terms of trying to revive that spirit of the Free State derby. But I know people like teams that are winning, so if we can start hyping up the game here in the Free State and Celtic also play their part, I think it will be a different ball game and people will start paying attention and looking forward to it. Though the two teams aren’t that old, they have a rich history and that’s something that needs to be marketed very well.

After losing, you really want to play as quick as possible because sometimes the break can create cracks. The moment you lose a game you want to rectify your mistakes immediately, but it’s different when you’ve won the game. You feel like you need a break so that you can rest, and the mood is positive. But when you’ve lost, you’re like, ‘We could have done this and that.’ You want to play another game. It would have been better to play this week, but now it’s going to take a week or two and you might find that we have to work on a lot of different things, like the spirit, the focus, the way we play and so on.

The team hashad our targets and didn’t fall that short. So far we are happy with the performance of the team and the youngsters coming in. You can see that the team has brought in a lot of players, but they still managed to gel.  Look at a player like Luyolo Nomandela. His performances speak volumes, as he’s been Man of the Match quite a number of times. But I think it goes back to his personal goals. We are both from the Eastern Cape, we talk about a lot of things. Every time he tells me, ‘You know what, bro, I want to achieve things while I’m still able to.’ The effort and hard work he’s putting in at training is unbelievable. Even though he’s doing well, he doesn’t have an attitude towards the technical staff and the players. The respect that he has for his teammates and the job that he’s doing...I mean, I’m so impressed! It’s his first season and he’s doing well. What I like about him is his focus. He’s willing to learn and when you tell him he hasn’t had a good game, he won’t be stubborn and say, ‘No, I played well.’ No!  He just takes the advice and moves on. Overall I’m happy with the way things are, but there is always room for improvement and we want to finish in a respectable position at the end of the season. I’m very positive that things will go according to plan. 

The supporters must keep supporting us. We appreciate their efforts because they’ve been behind us even when the results weren’t going our way. Even when we play away, they come in their numbers and we really appreciate their effort. We’ll keep fighting so that we can achieve something for them and the management. 

Mbhuyiselo Sambu,

Free State Stars

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