Roger De Sa chats to Sport24

2015-04-10 09:59
Roger De Sa (Supplied)
Roger De Sa (Supplied)
Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, current Ajax Cape Town head coach ROGER DE SA talks about swimming with sharks, his dream signing and the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

Sport24 asked: Since arriving in Cape Town in 2014. How have you found the transition?

Roger De Sa: I’m very happy that I made the move to the Mother City last February and am thoroughly enjoying my time on the coast. Cape Town is a lovely place to live, and on top of that, I’m at a quality football club where the players keep surprising me and motivate me to be a better coach. It’s always rewarding working with players that continue to hone their craft and show a consistent level of improvement through their game performances.

Sport24 asked: How would you compare the pressures of coaching at Ajax Cape Town as opposed to Orlando Pirates?

Roger De Sa: There are different pressures which come with each job. Some clubs demand you to win every game and other directors will only expect you to win half your games. Obviously then the ammunition you’re given is totally different. However, I believe that being a coach in a professional environment is the same all over. I had a fantastic stint at Pirates and am grateful for my time there, but I’m still coaching a football team that is ambitious. Every club has its own unique set of challenges, but there is always a match every week and training sessions to carry out on a daily basis, so nothing really changes.

Sport24 asked: Sundowns and Chiefs are out of Africa. Why do SA sides generally struggle in the competition, and how did you guide Pirates to the Caf Champions League final?

Roger De Sa: At Pirates, I had a fantastic group of players that were willing to listen and go to war. I think that is the fundamental difference. My players were prepared to roll up their sleeves, leave the luxuries at home and focus entirely on the action between the four white lines. While preparation is critical when competing in the Caf Champions League, I believe that you need the right blend in terms of playing personnel. For example, you cannot set up your side in Africa the same way as you would when playing in the PSL. Our run in the 2013 Caf Champions League was unbelievable and the experience of playing four African giants in Esperance, Al Ahly, Zamalek and TP Mazembe was an education for myself and the players.

Sport24 asked: Ajax lie in sixth spot on the PSL log. Your assessment of the season so far?

Roger De Sa: As far as the log table is concerned, to be honest we probably are where we are meant to be, but there is no doubt we have to hit an even higher level for the rest of the season. I think we need to improve on both attack and defence. In terms of the chances we create, I believe we should be scoring more goals. Meanwhile, we have let in some soft goals. I think we can and will improve, and in due course, we will get better. Every season has its ups and downs, but we need to pick up more points away from home and develop a stronger mettle. This is a promising young group of players in possession of natural talent.

Sport24 asked: Last season 20 percent of players registered with the PSL were 23 or younger, this season it’s just over 30 percent. Has football become a young man’s game?

Roger De Sa: We have been the leaders as far as youth development in the country is concerned. A lot of local clubs have tried to emulate the Ajax model, but in my view there is no comparison. You just have to look at the number of young players who have come through the ranks. Clubs are now realising that younger players are better investments. At Ajax Cape Town, I am in a prime position. The majority of our team is made up of players under the age of 23. Producing more young players is positive, but it must be noted it’s not just about production. Affording them game time in the PSL is paramount. For instance, my captain Travis Graham is just 21 years of age and is doing a fantastic job. Meanwhile, Rivaldo Coetzee’s rise has been exceptional. He has made massive progress, and if we could have more youngsters like him, the state of the game would be a lot better. If a player is good enough, he’s old enough. Age is just a number. While one of my highlights as a coach is to see youngsters coming through, at times, I feel the blend of our squad is a bit too young. Sometimes we lack leadership from old heads, which is why older players are also valuable.

Sport24 asked: If you could sign any footballer on the planet, who would it be and why?

Roger De Sa: Andres Iniesta. I don’t think he’s the best player in the world, but I’m a fan of the way he plays. He goes unnoticed and if you saw him on the street, you would think he’s an accountant. I really enjoy his touches and the way in which he goes about his business.

Sport24 asked: Reveal some dressing room secrets. Who is the biggest character and the most serious professional within the Ajax Cape Town squad?

Roger De Sa: The player with the biggest personality would definitely be Brandon Petersen. First of all he’s a goalkeeper, so he’s a bit of a nutter. He’s forever laughing and joking. He’s fantastic to have in the change room, but even better between the sticks. In contrast, Travis Graham is the most serious guy in the side. He’s very professional and rigid as far as routine.

Sport24 asked: Away from the football field, you partake in some interesting pastimes…

Roger De Sa: I want to continue to wear the same size shirt and jeans, and to do that I have to stay active. I’ve tried cage fighting and boxing to stay fit, but living in the Mother city, paddle boarding is the way to go. It’s an exercise which strengthens the core. And when I’m out on the ocean, no reporters, club chairmen or directors can get hold of me! It’s good fun and I find it’s a great way to clear my head. Now and then, there is a great white shark that might see you, but as long as you don’t see the big fish, it’s okay. I have also climbed Lion’s Head and enjoy venturing to the wine farms. Cape Town has to be the best city in the world.

Sport24 asked: You tackle Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals. Your thoughts?

Roger De Sa: It’s poised to be a tough game as they are team with quality players. The Clever Boys won’t always play pretty football, but they know how to win games. We without a doubt need a special performance to progress to the final four. Wits will naturally be physical and will play direct football. However, they are also in possession of proficient all-round players. We have to be at our best if we’re going to get anything out of this game.


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Read more on:    ajax cape town  |  psl  |  roger de sa  |  soccer

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