How Micho and Rhulani made Nyatama Pirates’ player of the season
Orlando Pirates’ Player of the Season Musa Nyatama has said that the coaching duo of Milutin Sredojovic and Rhulani Mokwena’s relentless analysis of their players’ game‚ and aspects that can be improved‚ bolstered in his consistency in 2017-18.
Nyatama was converted by head coach Sredojevic to a deep-lying playmaker in defensive midfield‚ and his performances were central to Pirates’ exciting‚ possession-based brand of football that saw them have a strong second half of the season and end Absa Premiership runners-up.
On Thursday night‚ Nyatama‚ signed by Pirates at the start of last season‚ was adjudged to have been the most influential cog in a side who played fluent football to recover markedly from the previous campaign’s 11th-placed hiatus‚ even if they could not manage a trophy.
Nyatama won not just Player of the Season‚ but earned that same level of recognition from the club’s supporters and his teammates with the Fans’ Player and Players’ Player of the Season awards too.
This from a season where 30-year-old Nyatama found a higher level of consistency than at previous clubs Maritzburg United‚ Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic – where his undoubted class had always been evident‚ but not always week-in and week-out.
“Whatever happened in the past‚ I didn’t take it as a negative. It was to say to myself‚ ‘I can still do it‚ even at my age’‚” Nyatama said.
“Of which I’ve proven to the South African public that I can still contribute to the success of Orlando Pirates.
“I had to go back to the basics‚ which was something I maybe was not doing before. I thought I knew football but going back to the basics was about staying humble‚ and try to listen to the coach.
“In terms of my consistency‚ the difference was that we do a lot of analysis at Pirates‚ and we reflect on previous games. That has helped me to reflect‚ from every game‚ on how I played and what I can improve on in the next game.
“Coaches 'Micho' [Sredojevic] and Rhulani have brought in a different dimension of the game.
“We’ve got our game model‚ and how we want to play. We’ve been adjusting to it‚ and it’s been working very well for us. And I doubt if we’ll stop with it.”
Nyatama was converted from advanced midfield to a deep-lying playmaker‚ where‚ especially in the second half of the season‚ a physical central midfield partner such as Xola Mlambo was able to provide the muscle alongside him.
Nyatama’s silky skills and ability to recycle the ball from deep in midfield to attack were essential to Pirates’ possession style‚ where Sredojevic and his assistant Mokwena have made keeping the ball sacrosanct.
“The coaches say you can’t lose that ball at Orlando Pirates. It’s a precious thing to have – you have to keep it all the time‚” Nyatama said.
“And there are two principles that we say in the team – which is that we don’t keep the ball for keeping the ball; it’s possession for penetration‚ not possession for just possession.”