Owen Da Gama: I hear people on the radio and print media saying that we run and we are the fittest team. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Owen Da Gama: I hear people on the radio and print media saying that we run and we are the fittest team. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Owen Da Gama: We still have a lot to do, but we are really humbled by the improvement from last season. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Owen Da Gama: We still have a lot to do, but we are really humbled by the improvement from last season. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Owen da Gama credits team spirit and everyone pulling their weight for Highlands Park’s early success that sees them 90 minutes away from being MTN8 champions.

The Lions of the North will take on SuperSport United in the MTN8 final on October 5 at Orlando Stadium.

“First and foremost, we have athletes in our team,” Da Gama said. “I hear people on the radio and print media saying that we run and we are the fittest team. That’s just one piece of the puzzle.

All the credit must go to our biokineticist (Simone Conley), everything is scientifically done. She must get the credit. The analysts and the coaches must also get the credit. We work hard. We really work hard.

Yes, there are coaches who more intelligent than us and coaches who are more handsome than us, I don’t believe that but anyhow, at the end of the day there are few coaches who work as hard as we do. The hard work is coming through, we work as a collective.”

Highlands Park trainer/biokineticist Simone Conley during a training session. Photo: Simone Conley on facebook
Highlands Park trainer/biokineticist Simone Conley during a training session. Photo: Simone Conley on facebook

But even though they have done well in the cup, they have been inconsistent in the league. The two draws with Black Leopards and Maritzburg United held them back after losing their opening game against Kaizer Chiefs. They bounced back to beat AmaZulu and Baroka FC in their last two matches.

“You’ve got to understand that we are one season and five matches in the PSL, and we are playing against teams who have been in this league for a long time - to hold our own against those teams is satisfying and it shows that we are growing as a team,” Da Gama said.

“We haven’t arrived yet. We know that. We still have a lot to do, but we are really humbled by the improvement from last season. That’s all we said, we want an improvement from last season. The credit must go to the entire technical team, the players and management.”

Owen Da Gama, coach of Highlands Park and Rodney Ramagalela during the MTN8 2019 Highlands Park media day at Balfour Park Training Grounds in August. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Highlands will host Polokwane City on Sunday before taking on SuperSport in the final the following weekend. This will be Rise and Shine’s second visit to Makhulong Stadium this season. These two sides met over two legs in the MTN8 semi-finals. Highlands won on penalties after three hours of football finished with neither side finding the back of the net.

But Da Gama has already started preparing for the final. He watched SuperSport lose to Polokwane City last week in a match that saw Onismor Bhasera sent off.

The following day Highlands beat Baroka FC but also saw their player, Richard Williams, being sent off.

Bonginkosi Ndadane

 

The Star

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