Bafana turn to sports psychologist ahead of must-win Burkina Faso clash

01 October 2017 - 11:03 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana players during a training session at FNB Stadium.
Bafana Bafana players during a training session at FNB Stadium.
Image: Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana will have a sports psychologist in camp for their must-win World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on October 7‚ South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Dennis Mumble has said.

Mumble said the psychologist would work on the players’ mental toughness after away and home 2-1 defeats against Cape Verde that have left Bafana’s Russia 2018 ambitions almost in tatters.

South Africa can restore a faint chance of qualification with a victory against 49th-ranked Burkina Faso.

Coach Stuart Baxter identified the mental aspect of his Bafana players as being key to the Cape Verde defeats.

His argument appeared to be strengthened by now confirmed reports that at least four players partied hard in the team hotel in Durban after the second loss on September 5.

Mumble said Safa will look at employing sports psychologists to address this aspect.

“We have to work on the mindset of the players‚” Mumble said this week.

“What is it that we cannot get our players to raise the psychological preparedness for these kinds of big events?

“Because there clearly is something wrong.

"Every time I ask a coach‚ ‘Why did the team perform in the way that it did?’ the answer is always‚ “The mindset’.

“So we are now really seriously talking to some sports psychologists to see that they come and work with the team on a permanent basis.

“And it’s not just in a group setting. It’s one-on-one. Because each player is different in character.

“And work with them consistently‚ even if it doesn’t mean just in the camp itself‚ but outside it too.

“The chief psychologist obviously is the coach. But there needs to be a level of professional psychology that needs to be applied here.

“The coach is working with us to identify a group of sports psychologists and people with experience in the field to work with our players to get them a bit more mentally tough for these big occasions.”

Asked if a sports psychologist would be employed for the game against Burkina Faso‚ Mumble replied: “Yes‚ this is part of what I’m saying.

“I have been talking to the coach about that.

"The chief medical officer has been asked to go and make sure that we get a sports psychologist who comes in the very next camp to work with the players.

“That’s another dimension that we’ve added now in addition to the coach’s own preparations.

"Because the coach is obviously ultimately still responsible for making sure that the team are properly prepared.”

 - TimesLIVE