GWP Friends FC have a tendency of making three substitutions in the first 10 minutes of their ABC Motsepe KwaZulu Natal League matches.
A lot of people, even the opposition teams have been left astonished by this trend, which has taken place consistently. Some opponents have even protested about it.
Friends FC assistant coach Mafa Zuma has revealed to FARPost that they have to abide by the SAFA rule, which states that they must start the match with five U23 players, that’s why they make those changes.
“Remember you’d also know that we are still growing these under 23 players, we don’t want to place them under pressure.
“It’s the second round of the league, we’d like to collect maximum points so if we try to bring in these early substitutions with experienced players, remember the tempo of the game is always high so by the time the game reaches its tempo they must always be on the field.”
“So you don’t want to do that at a later stage because the opponent will want to defend throughout 90 minutes, especially if you are playing a team that has traveled a long distance,” said Zuma.
The former Summerfield Dynamos FC assistant coach further revealed that the players who get substituted understand the situation they find themselves in and this is part of grooming the under 23 players.
“It’s a tactical change for us and it’s somehow working in our favor because these youngsters that we have, we can’t say they are not there but it’s a matter of us having to groom them and they know the situation that we are faced with.”
“We’ve always made it known to them that this is how we are going to apply ourselves and they are very fine with it,” added Zuma.
The team has accepted the tag of dark horses in the title race as other contenders dropped points on Saturday.
“Sometimes when you say we are dark horses it may sound nasty but that’s the case at this point. Look the likes of Umvoti FC, Summerfield Dynamos FC and Umsinga United FC, they dropped points yesterday (Saturday) and we are just there and if you look at it broadly it’s a matter of how we approach these games that are remaining.”
“Remember we still have to play against Umvoti FC and Umsinga United so there is a lot to play for and anything can still happen at this stage,” concluded Zuma.
By Wonga Sirayi
FARPost’s KZN Reporter