Bloemfontein Celtic reserve team will cherish watching Arsenal in Europa League

LONDON – Abram Nteo has expressed his delight over West Ham United Academy coaching structures after Bloemfontein Celtic held their second training session at the English club’s reserve headquarters in Chadwell Heath on Friday.

It has been a two-day stint to reminisce for Phunya Sele Sele since their arrival in London on Thursday.

Upon their arrival, they were treated to a light training session, greet and meet gesture, with the academy coaches before being hosted at the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Rennes in the last-16 of the Uefa Europa League.

The Gunners booked their spot in the last-eight of the tournament with a 4-3 aggregate victory.

That invaluable experience from their training session, and the exhilarating scenes at Emirates Stadium were some of the lessons that his troops will cherish for the rest of their football careers, Nteo believes.

“In terms of today’s (Friday) training session, the guys are improving,” Nteo stated.

“The emphasis today was to work on better communication and passing. They had to make sure that the transition was quicker – making their defence to attack play at least six seconds.

“I was very impressed with the game’s (at Emirates) warm-up preparations, as everything was professional.

“Both teams played well, and Arsenal dominated possession. And the way the Gunners play is similar to our kind of football – very refreshing to see.”

In the bigger scheme of things, though, the Celtic coach is adamant this will be a well-spent tour for the entire team.

‘Wire’ as Nteo is affectionately known in the football fraternity, is one of the up and coming coaches after spells with NFD teams African Warriors and  Royal Eagles.

Moreover, after being part of the squad for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the 41-year-old is hoping that he can branch out to become one of the best coaches that the country has ever had.

With those aspirations, he’ll be looking to join his former teammate Benni McCarthy, who currently holds the Uefa Pro Licence, and is now in the Premiership title race with Cape Town City.

“Most of the time as coaches, we just want to play formations, but we don’t know how to apply them,” he said.

“We also need to plan well, and those are some of the things that I’ve learnt so far. Fadlu Davids and McCarthy are doing very well at the moment in their respective capacities, and that’s inspirational to us as black coaches.

“We must also do coaching lessons so that we can improve, but passion is important for the game.”

Nteo might have recently led his troops to the MDC title, but his true character will be tested when they clash with West Ham United Under-23s on Monday, with kickoff at 2pm SA time.

The South Africans will head into this encounter high on confidence, especially after being given an eye-opener by the club’s coaches educator Paul Heffer.

The mindset of the players during the training sessions and match-day will likely be different.

However, Nteo believes that remaining true to their identity will be pivotal in seeing off the English.

“One of the players was telling the rest of the boys that we need to show them our true colours, of how we play and not be nervous or intimidated by the new structure,” he said.

“Yes, they are ahead of us tactically, but we need to express ourselves in our comfort. But we just need to keep the basics and bring what we’ve learnt into the game.”

@Mihlalibaleka

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