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Mental strength needed for Marumo Gallants to balance relegation fight and Confederation Cup glory

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The Limpopo outfit are engaged in differing domestic and continental battles, which will require them to be strong mentally if they are to succeed.

Edgar Manaka of Marumo Gallants during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 match between Marumo Gallants and Mamelodi Sundowns at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane
Edgar Manaka of Marumo Gallants during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on 06 May 2023. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Johannesburg – Raymond Mdaka is going to have to wear a psychologist’s cap in addition to the coaching one on his head, if Marumo Gallants are going to successfully make it through the dual battles facing them in the next few weeks.

The Limpopo outfit are engaged in differing domestic and continental battles, which will require them to be strong mentally if they are to succeed.

Mdaka is aware that keeping Marumo Gallants afloat in the Premiership where they are in danger of getting relegated and helping them win the Caf Confederation Cup in which they are semi-finalists will need much more than just brilliant play on the pitch.

“That one is a difficult area to deal with,” Mdaka responded, when asked about how he is handling the players’ psychological well-being with the threat of them losing their livelihood hovering above their heads like a dark cloud.

“But I know that the strength of a person is in the mind. Now whatever you say and whatever you do should not be something that will not deject the players.

“It must be something to pick the players up.

“We just have to understand, all of us as players and the technical team that the key for is to manage this situation.

“We must got there and play to make sure we still have a chance (to progress) and that chance will only come if we are united and we work together and support each other.”

Defeated 2-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns in a league match Saturday, Marumo Gallants are still stuck in the throes of relegation – positioned 14th with 29 points and one match to go.

That is just three points more than bottom dwellers Maritzburg United and the same as 15th-placed Chippa United, who both still have two matches to play.

They have to beat Swallows FC in their final match if they are to survive, but that will happen much later.

Mdaka’s immediate concern is to ensure that his players are not weighed down by the threat of relegation as they prepare to take on Tanzania’s Young Africans in their own backyard for the first leg semi-final of the Confederation Cup.

He knows it is going to be a tough challenge.

“Football is about people. People cannot just go out and support a team that doesn’t have anything.

“There’s clearly something in that team” he said looking ahead to facing a well-supported opposition.

“Playing against a hostile crowd is not something we worry ourselves too much about. We know that players are protected and the technical team is protected, so we let it go and focus on the game.

“Obviously, there’s nothing we can do about the crowd because it will always be there.

“And often if you are good, they will maybe support you.”

Unlike most coaches who take the approach that it is best to try and score away even if you lose so that you give yourself the chance of winning the tie on the away goals rule should it get to that, Mdaka sees things differently.

“Those are dynamics and mathematics that get into play, but if you go there and say that I am going to get the result it covers everything.”

@Tshiliboy

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