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We are ready for top flight football says Richards Bay Assistant Coach Ronnie Gabriel

Ronnie Gabriel, assistant coach of Richards Bay reacts during a GladAfrica Championship match. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ronnie Gabriel, assistant coach of Richards Bay reacts during a GladAfrica Championship match. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published May 27, 2022

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Durban — Richards Bay FC assistant coach Ronnie Gabriel has expressed his hope that the club will get to play in their home ground of the Richards Bay Stadium in the near future.

The recently promoted top fight side were banned by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee (DC) from using their home ground for two years in 2021 after it was deemed to not be of PSL standard.

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“This past season we only played one home game at our official home ground. After that the stadium was deemed not fit to host games. We played our remaining 14 home games at the King Zwelethini Stadium. In a way, it was like playing 29 away games. It made winning the league even more sweeter. We want to return to Richards Bay as we belong there but are hoping that the municipality can get the ground ready early next season,” Gabriel told Independent Media.

Gabriel did add that the community of uMlazi has been good to their club and supplied them with support during home games. By attaining automatic promotion to the Premiership, Richards Bay will now be the fifth team from Kwa-Zulu Natal to play in the top-flight next season, a record high for the isiZulu Kingdom.

“I must add that uMlazi has been good to us. We cannot run away from that. We got a lot of home victories at the King Zwelethini Stadium. It worked out in our favour as the team won promotion. The supporters and people from the community provided us with a lot of support,” he said.

Richards Bay won the physically demanding GladAfrica Championship with a two point gap over the University of Pretoria and beat established sides such as Polokwane City, Free State Stars and Black Leopards to promotion. Gabriel is confident that his side has what it takes to cope with the demands of top-flight football next season.

“We have assembled a quality side and a lot of players have experience at the highest level. We will be ready for the season. We will be up against the big boys like Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. We must up our game and must give our players time to acclimatize to the new league. It is a huge achievement for Richards Bay to have a team in the top-flight. It’s something that the club has been trying to do for the past four few seasons. After a modest start, we clawed our way back and from there, there was no turning back,” said Gabriel.

Richards Bay flirted with promotion throughout the 2020/21 season before ultimately falling short in the promotion/relegation playoffs last season against Chippa United. One of the challenges that they successfully overcame over the past season was keeping their players motivated despite the psychological blow of missing promotion by a whisker.

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“When I arrived as a coach, the players were psychologically affected. Imagine working hard and narrowly missing out on promotion? We spoke about motivation throughout the season and did a lot of exercises to create a good mental attitude,” said Gabriel.

@eshlinv

IOL Sport

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