Coach Kopo on DStv Diski team, National U23 and Bafana

09 April, 2021

First Team

The SuperSport United website arranged a Q and A session with coach Kwanele Kopo regarding his role with the National teams and as head coach of the club’s DStv Diski team.

Coach Kopo on DStv Diski team, National U23 and Bafana

The SuperSport United website arranged a Q and A session with coach Kwanele Kopo regarding his role with the National teams and as head coach of the club’s DStv Diski team.

 The DStv Diski league resumes this week after a very long break, did the break help in terms of working on other aspects on the team?

We had started off relatively well with the league and were looking forward to a good season before the suspension of games due to Covid 19. When the games stopped at the beginning of January we decided to keep our U21 Reserve Team training as the players had to keep fit and active for possible call up to our senior team in case of injury or positive Covid cases. The break also afforded us the opportunity to really put in great effort into the athletic and physical development of the players as we had not really had a full preseason due to Covid regulations. We also got to play some friendlies against NFD (Glad Africa) teams while some players were also called up for training and friendly matches with the PSL squad to assess for the future. 

Have you been notified about the resumption of the Diski matches at a convenient time?

Well, we have been notified the same as every other team, I think we all had about 10 days’ notice, but the matches  were initially set to resume on the 3rd April, then got delayed by a week following the President's address on Lockdown regulations. 

I’m referring to team preparation, selection, travelling and other issues pertaining to matches?

Well, we have been training, but with initial uncertainty on whether the games would continue we began to take some short three to four days breaks in the last few weeks to enable the players to recover from the intensive training and given them some time to visit families also. We have unfortunately also experienced some injuries in the course of the training and games, and we will be missing some key players as we resume the competition, but we still believe that we should be competitive despite the setbacks.

How is resuming the matches on the road as opposed to starting at home?

The first game is always going to be difficult as one has no recent information on the opponents, their squad, their readiness and their tactics. Playing away first also adds the challenge of different conditions, such as weather and field condition, but this is part of the training and education of the players for professional football. Some teams have to start away from home, and we happen to be one of them. What's important is to get a result, and get into the rhythm mentally, emotionally, physically and technically.

At some point, your job is two-fold, the Diski Team and the National Teams, how do you juggle the two?

It's been very very demanding to work with our Diski Team and at the same time do work for the national team, but it's also an opportunity of a lifetime to work with the National Under23 and Bafana Bafana within two years. I must Thank SAFA and the national coaches for affording me the opportunity and the privilege, and I must also THANK the Management of SuperSport United Football Club for allowing me the opportunity to work in the national set up, to grow, contribute and gain experience at the international stage. While I only go to the national team during FIFA International dates, I have had to do a lot of work daily for our Diski team and the national teams. There aren't enough hours in a day...

What is your role and mostly your critical roles in the National Teams?

As Assistant Coach to the Under23s and Bafana Bafana, prior to the camps I have had to watch games to monitor, assess and profile players for selection. I have also had to watch upcoming opponents, analyze and also contribute in developing strategies to adopt for the opponents, as well as watching our own previous games and assess our players individually, in groups and the team and contribute in recommendations to improve our players individually, in groups and the team. I must say it is a task that is very difficult when one is doing its part time and not full time, but over time I’ve learnt to do the best within whatever conditions and circumstances at both club and national team level.

How did it go at the camp regarding CAF events preparations on the continent?

 I must say that the last Bafana Bafana camp was the most difficult camp in all the time I've been involved with any national team, and then having to play a powerhouse like Ghana and then Sudan away in such a short space of time was very difficult. Bafana were missing around 10 regular players due to Covid 19 restrictions and some injuries to other players going into this camp. Only two sessions before the Ghana game, then one session before the Sudan game, with two days between games and 13 hours of travelling to Sudan was not easy. I believe we made the best of the situation and still had two other injuries after the Ghana game that forced changes for the Sudan game. Unfortunately we failed to qualify for AFCON 2022, but we truly tried our best under very difficult circumstances, keeping the players calm during the whole period. It was a tough test! 

 And finally, what is your take on the team that won the Ekurhuleni Youth Tournament recently?

I am truly proud of what the team was able to do in winning the Under18 Ekurhuleni Youth Tournament, it was good work from the players and Coaches involved. The tournament afforded us the opportunity to give our Under18 Diski players some valuable game time and competition, while we also combined them with some of our Under17 players to assess their progress. It was a very fruitful exercise which has also contributed in preparing the Under18 Diski players for the upcoming competition as well as our Under17 players as they start their league also this weekend. Great Achievement and Congrats to all the staff and the players!!!

Kwanele Kopo SuperSport United DStv Diski team Head Coach and Bafana Bafana and National Under23 Assistant Coach