31 May 2018 – With just a few days to go before SAFA kicks off the ABC Motsepe League Play Offs, head coach of Western Cape ABC Motsepe League winners, Steenberg United, Mike Lukhubeni has got a calm head on his shoulders as his side prepares to represent the province and ultimately qualify for the National First Division next season.
Having successfully led PSL side, Chippa United into the NFD and then into the Premier Soccer League in his stint at the club, the 49-year-old coach sounded composed and collected when speaking to SAFA.net about his side’s preparations for the highly anticipated play offs, saying that nothing has changed in how he prepares his charges.
“We are not putting any pressure on anyone at the club because that is where you will get it wrong. We are preparing as normal and just working on our team and individual strengths as a club. The boys are excited and understand what it means to play in the play offs. We are not putting any pressure on ourselves” said Lukhubeni.
Steenberg kick off their quest to NFD qualification against Free State champions, Mangaung Unite. They will then face the ruthless Umvoti FC in their second game with the hope of securing a place in the semi-finals.
Asked on whether he’s relaxed approach could backfire, Lukhubeni said their belief as a club was in their strengths and they just need a few minutes of the game to identify their opponents.
“I honestly don’t believe in watching and studying my opponents. I would rather focus on what I can control with my team and not focus on my opposition. We can make our analysis of the opponent in the opening minutes and understand their strengths” said a confident Lukhubeni.
The Steenberg mentor also added that qualification to the NFD would mean more to his players because he has tasted the sweet victory of NFD promotion while still at Chippa.
“Personally, it would be great to qualify as a coach but I think the players will appreciate it more because it will further expose their talent to an even bigger platform where they can compete at a higher level than the Motsepe League. I know how it feels and know what it would mean to the players so they need to step up and give it their all” concluded Lukhubeni
The ABC Motsepe Play Offs kick off on Monday, 4 June and will conclude on Saturday, 9 June where two clubs will seal promotion into the NFD.