- One of South Africa's seasoned physical trainers, Riedoh Berdien, has spoken to Briefly.co.za on helping the Gambian side qualify for Afcon
- Currently contracted to Mamelodi Sundowns, Berdien believes Bafana Bafana can still become a great footballing nation despite the Afcon failure
- Moreover, Berdien has also credited his wife, Nur, for her amazing support while also taking care of the children
He is contracted to Mamelodi Sundowns as a physical trainer and conditioning coach; multi-talented and humble Riedoh Berdien is making history with the Gambian national football team.
Berdien is part of the Gambian national team that has made history to reach the next CAF African Cup of Nations tournament for the first time and he reflects on their journey to Cameroon.
Born in Cape Town 38 years ago, the humble trainer exclusively told Briefly.co.za that setting up training bases in different parts of the world has been a challenge for his colleagues and coach Tom Saintfiet but also credited the players for their willingness to adjust and adapt to training methods.
On the other hand, the former Chippa United and Free State Stars mentor has refused to look at Masandawana players as having failed to qualify for Afcon but believes South Africa still has quality players and technicians. He told Briefly.co.za:
“It feels amazing just to put the smiles on other people's faces in these parts of Africa, it is something I can't describe.
“Despite making history, it was just the way the team performs that was really impressive. No one gave us a chance and also being group winners is something historians are made of.”
Speaking about their preparation en route to the upcoming continental showpiece slated for Cameroon early next year, Berdien added that there were many sacrifices that had to be made.
“It was challenging with lots of sacrifices, having training camps in different parts of the world and trying to motivate players to achieve their maximum and reach their potential is not easy.
“Being a foreigner in another country makes it tough but the team and the players embraced our football physical conditioning method very well.”
The experienced trainer having also worked with the South African women's team, Banyana Banyana, Berdien is hoping to achieve better things in his third Afcon tournament.
“Well, this is my third Afcon qualification with three different football countries as a fitness coach. The first was with Botswana in 2012, Togo in 2017 and now with The Gambia 2022.”
Coming back to the domestic matters, Bafana Bafana have disappointed their fans after failing to reach the tournament but the trainer has a few words for his players at club level. He responded:
“Well, I think it's not fair to say Sundowns players failed to qualify. We all have failed to be honest. South Africa has quality players and technicians. It's only a matter of time that we will be one of the top nations in Africa again.”
Just as this website wrapped up the conversation with the seasoned technical team member at Chloorkop, Berdien has credited his family and wife for standing behind him through thick and thin.
“Yes, I would really like to thank all the people who supported my career from coaches to supporters etc.
“People ask me who motivates the motivator and I have to say it's for sure my wife Nur Berdien. I mean the support she gives is truly amazing and also looking after the kids Reem, Saliegh and Neda make her a superhero in my eyes.”
Briefly.co.za previously reported that the most successful Bafana coach, Clive Barker, said AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy or Pitso Mosimane of Al Ahly should be given the national team job.
Known as 'The Dog', the 76-year-old mentor is confident in the AmaZulu coach and his remarks come just as the country is still reeling in shock following the 2-0 loss at the hands of Sudan on Sunday.
Barker wants to see current coach Molefi Ntseki relieved from his duties, saying the South African Football Association should go for a more qualified manager.
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