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Royal AM coach John Maduka says Premiership rookies will bounce back from heartbreaking defeat

Royal AM players warming up before their debut DStv Premiership 2021/22 match against Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on August 22 2021.
Royal AM players warming up before their debut DStv Premiership 2021/22 match against Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on August 22 2021.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Royal AM lost their debut match in the Premiership ranks and coach John Maduka put the defeat against Swallows in Soweto on Sunday down to a lack of confidence among his players, whose bags are probably yet to be unpacked after they arrived in Pietermaritzburg from Bloemfontein a couple of days before the match.

Royal, who until last week were known as Bloemfontein Celtic before the historic club was sold, relocated and renamed, conceded a last-minute goal to lose 1-0 at Dobsonville Stadium.

Maduka said the Royal players, probably still acclimatising to unfamiliar conditions in Pietermaritzburg, and most of them still trying to come to terms with the fact that they no longer represent Celtic, did not play their normal game.

“I think we did not play the game that we wanted. It is our first game of the season and it is always tricky,” said Maduka after the match.

“Swallows had the advantage because this was their second game of the season already.

“You could see most of the time we allowed them to have the ball, and after winning the ball, we wanted to try to hit them on a counter attack, something which did not happen, because we were so slow in reaction and going forward.”

Maduka bemoaned a lack of movement in the final third and said he would be rectifying that shortcoming before their next assignment at home against Cape Town City in Chatsworth at 5pm on Wednesday.

He will also be working on his players' confidence.

“When you have the confidence you will be able to play, because if you look at the team we put out on the field of play, they are all ball players. But they could not even make five passes, which means there is a lack of confidence, and with it being the first game of the season, there was tension, but it will all come right.

“You must have confidence and believe in yourself that you can do it and then when you go onto the field of play it becomes a bit easier.

“But if you lack confidence it becomes difficult because your movement and decision-making is not going to be right.”

The much-talked-about Royal AM are finally living their Premiership dream, and despite the Pietermaritzburg-based club’s top-flight debut ending in heartbreaking fashion, they showed signs that they will be hard to beat under Maduka.


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