Positive vibe: SA captain Itumeleng Khune celebrates a goal against Burkina Faso on Saturday. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU /BACKPAGEPIX
Positive vibe: SA captain Itumeleng Khune celebrates a goal against Burkina Faso on Saturday. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU /BACKPAGEPIX

A sports psychologist helped Bafana players regain their composure and believe they had the talent to beat Burkina Faso 3-1 at on Saturday.

Bafana stand-in captain Itumeleng Khune and coach Stuart Baxter revealed their extra weapon was psychologist Martin Scheepers.

Many fans gave Saturday’s match a miss after SA’s shocking back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde in two previous World Cup qualifiers in September.

"It was very interesting because the first thing we did with Martin Scheepers was to have a meeting where we ran things by him on what we wanted to address‚" said Baxter.

"He gave us some points and said of the five we were already doing four. The one big point that he said was missing was that he wanted the players’ minds to be on the ‘here and now’.

"We talked about the Cape Verde issue and the fact that we seemed to have our focus on Russia and that we were not in the ‘here and now’ in that game.

"He also said that it’s going to take us about a year to get a winning culture in our mind-set if he keeps working with us.

"The players had a session with him and said they thought it was interesting. So it was good to have him on board‚" the coach added.

Khune‚ who had an influence in the second and third goals with his distribution‚ also showered Scheepers with praise.

"Martin did a great job working on our mind-set because we were mostly focusing on social stress, which we all go through. Most of the time‚ when we’re in camp we only have one training session and the rest of the day is free," said Khune.

"You’re on your phone and you’re on social media. You find people sending you not so nice messages and we were discussing that with him and the coach. He’s been on our case in that we have a good training session and then get on the bus open up our phones and get messages that are negative. It’s just spoils the whole day and all the good work you’ve done with the coach.

"We lost two games against Cape Verde. We knew that we needed to get ourselves up by getting positive results. And we played good entertaining football on Saturday because we had our minds where they were supposed to be.

"We forgot about what happened against Cape Verde and we were looking at the future.

"So we are happy with Martin’s contribution because he worked on our minds and even going forward now we know what to do when things are this way‚" added Khune.


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