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This time of the season: Freshness vs Fitness

Written By Themba Khumalo on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I think some people will remember my update few weeks ago about the tight schedule of Kaizer Chiefs: This is a team that started well this season; they were very consistent (under normal circumstances like last season) until their schedule became very tight, playing a competitive match every 3/4 days.

Chiefs has a very low 'muscle injury rate', that speaks volume about the quality of training methods/conditioning. There is no compensation for full recovery, Chiefs has a minimal squad, they have been forced to use more or less the same team in many games (especially here at home).

This team has been playing games every 3/4 days, with lots of travelling in between, some key players playing '90 at Bafana Bafana too (Including CHAN). Look at Orlando Pirates, they can’t play at their maximal best due to fatigue (remember having to resume with CAF in the middle of their preparation season?). It is nice and easy on paper (to say fatigue is an excuse) but it’s tough on application, especially with such a small squad... Fitness VS Freshness, how do you get players to be fresh with such a schedule?

Almost impossible, Stuart Baxter has done well to maintain their fitness but the players needed more time to recover for freshness. Today I was lucky to have a chat with Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane about this issue and he was happy to have a full week in between games after 9 weeks of back to back matches (Wednesday-Saturday and Sunday-Saturday etc.) and I am not saying it’s guaranteed for them to win their next match but it gives them an advantage.

This is a lesson to many coaches out there, even youth coaches who go play youth tournaments where you play more than 1 game in a day or play every day.

By Sinesipho Mali
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