BONGANI Khumalo is usually a calm figure on and off the pitch, someone who hardly draws unnecessary attention to himself.
It was odd, therefore, to see the lanky Bidvest Wits defender furiously kick a ball against the advertising boards during a training session this week.
But he quickly put the situation down to the usual training spats that occur among competitive individuals all seeking a common goal.
The Students could do with Khumalo’s competitive attitude this weekend as they seek to overturn the 1-0 first-leg deficit in their MTN8 semifinal tie against Cape Town City at the Bidvest Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
“It happens in training. You want to win everything, you want to be competitive,” said Khumalo.
“You see how Steve (Pienaar) trains and what he demands from the other players. It’s quite different from the South African culture.
“It’s a European football mentality, which is on another level.
“It’s the same thing he told me . . . that I also need to share the experience I’ve gained along the way.
“I like to believe I contributed to the success of the club with that experience last season.”
With no fewer than four “European” returnees – Pienaar, Daylon Claasen, Granwald Scott and James Keene – Wits have experience in abundance.
That experience will be needed against the Citizens, whose four-match unbeaten run suggests they will be one of the teams to beat this season.
“There’s a great opportunity to turn it around in the second leg,” Khumalo said.
“It’s an open but sensitive game, as they still have the one-goal advantage. We need calm heads so we can manage the game as best as we can. It’s a semifinal. It’s one game and you’re in the final. There’s a long way to go in the league, but success in the cup is now.”
Wits have only won once in four matches this season but Khumalo puts down their mixed start to the success of last season.
“It’s something I’ve experienced before at SuperSport United,” he explained.
“When you come off the back of a successful season, everybody wants to beat you. It’s important to adjust.”