Strength of depth within the Witbank Spurs squad will enable the NFD Inland team to challenge for honours this season, says club management.
Formed in 1963 and formerly knows as Peoples’ Bank Spurs, the Witbank team are currently third in the Inland Stream with 11 points-and are only two points behind log leaders Pretoria University, and despite losing 1-0 to Tuks last weekend, they believe that a successful season lies ahead.
“I was pleased with our performance against Tuks, we played well and I don’t think on the balance of play we deserved to lose. We created good chances, that’s a positive. But we could just not convert them,” said coach Tshepo Ntia.
Ntia, a local-born man now in his second season with the club, preferred not to single out any players as key to the team’s hopes.
“All my players are important. We do not have any big names, but we have a team that is willing to work hard and listen to instructions and I am confident we will do well this season.”
The Mpumalanga side do not have many star players – bar one – former Orlando Pirates striker Ralf Matema is an exception to the rule.
Brothers Patrick and Peter Mubayiwa are amongst the fans’ favourites, while Humphrey Khaniel is a long time servant, having played for the club back in the Mvela Golden League.
Themba Mafu, the club’s technical director, is however confident that the eMalahleni outfit possess the ingredients for a bright future.
“Its not a surprise to us that we have started the campaign well, and this is despite losing striker and captain Ralf Matema after two games to injury – last season we finished third and we are continuing from that.
“And we have worked hard to make sure we have a well-balanced squad. Last season when we lost players to injuries, or suspensions, we struggled.
“But we have moved to make sure we have more strength of depth in the squad. Our vision was to be in the PSL by 2010, so we are going all out to finish in the promotion play-off positions this season, and we are also targeting success in the Nedbank Cup to show that we can compete with any team in the country,” said Ntia.
Spurs’ compete with their ‘richer cousins’ – Mpumalanga Black Aces, for support in the coal-mining town.
They have succeeded in attracting a loyal and committed fan base, no doubt helped by the fact that the club contains a large contingent of locally-born players, in stark contrast to AmaZayoni, who have adopted a very different approach to squad building.
“I would say that 70% of the players in our squad are local boys. In addition we have three players from Zimbabwe and one from Gabon.
“We worked hard to keep all our players from last season to ensure continuity, only losing one player – Lungelo Yekiso, to Bay United,” explained Ntia.
Its an admirable strategy that Spurs have adopted, and if their approach can pay dividends with success on the field it would be a great triumph for a patient and common sense philosophy in today’s environment of big spending quick fixes.
Spurs who are out of action this weekend will face Jomo Cosmos away at Makhulong Stadium in Thembisa on Wednesday night before travelling to Giyani three days later where they have another tricky game away to Dynamos on Saturday, November 13.
The rest of National First Division fixtures this weekend are:
Inland Stream-Friday, November 5:
University of Pretoria v FC AK (Tuks Stadium, 7.30pm)
Saturday, November 6:
Dynamos v Batau FC (Giyani) and United v Black Leaopards (Seisa Ramabodu)
Coastal Stream fixtures:
Saturday, November 6:
Thanda Royal Zulu FC v Bay United (Richards Bay Sports Stadium), FC Cape Town African Warriors (NNK Rugby Stadium), Carara Kicks v Hannover Park (Goble Park) and Blackburn Rovers v Nathi Lions Buffalo City Stadium.