After missing the trip to Cape Town due to a suspension, midfielder Andile Jali has expressed his delight at the prospect of returning for the Soweto Derby on Saturday.
The Bafana Bafana regular, who also happens to be the current Orlando Pirates Player of the Season, revealed in an interview with Orlandopiratesfc.com that the spirit in the camp is high and that everyone is looking forward to the epic clash.
Orlandopiratesfc.com sat down with the midfield general get the low-down on his preparations for the big game.
A day before the derby
“A day before the derby is one of the most nervous days for me. I am a relaxed person by nature but for some reason the derby will get you thinking about a lot of things, but I try to remain focussed on the kick off hour. This is a game in which you have to give your best shot.
“From the time I wake up, I visualise in my mind how we are going to play. I also pray to God that all goes well for me and for the team, and the rest is just the normal things we do before the derby.”
Hours before the game
“When we are left with, say… four hours before kick-off, my heart races… I guess that is because of the excitement and eagerness to get onto that pitch.
“By this time, I put my cell phone aside. My mind is just on the game. By this time we (the team) congregate and share ideas on how we will approach the game … the coach will lead the last session and things get very serious at this point.”
Moments leaving the camp
“When this hour arrives and everybody is ready to board the bus going to the stadium, I become calm again, I guess because I know the hour has arrived. I am not nervous anymore… by this time you have to be ready psychologically … in your mind you have to know that you are ready, otherwise you will be nervous when you step onto the pitch.
“What also keeps me strong is the fact that I know my family is praying for me; so I just relax.”
Kick off time
“By this time I know I am ready to play. I want to touch the ball and play… when the whistle goes off it is party time… I want to play and enjoy myself. I still feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders but that does not put me under pressure – in fact, it motivates me to do well.
“The beginning is tense… you look at your opponents’ faces and they are all focussed and determined to take you on – what is important is that I do not allow myself to be intimidated by their serious look. Now I just want to play and do well.”