The Sunday Mail
OVER the course of his storied coaching career, that stretches over two decades, Sables coach Peter de Villiers has been called many things.
Charismatic, seasoned, pioneer, wordsmith not to mention infamous, rabble-rouser, rambler and it has been an absolute pleasure watching the 61-year-old live up to every single one of them and then some over the last couple of months.
His well-documented coaching resume aside, the “De Villiers magic” lies in his inept ability to awe and inspire.
It is something he has done effortlessly over the last five months as players appeared to have flocked to him like a moth to a flame.
He has instilled a sense of belief back into the Sables followers and more often than not had left the Fourth Estate eating from the palm of his hand.
One need only go through the litany of Peter de Villiers’ quotable quotes as a point of reference with the latest arguably the best of the lot.
“Zim life is exactly what the Bible talks about, ‘the Promised Land’; there is no challenge here, there is actually milk and honey,” said De Villiers.
“I think Zimbabwe is going to be the true heaven on earth.
“The highlight for me here is the fact that everybody you meet has an opinion, and right or wrong, I appreciate it.
“After all, an opinion is not the only opinion but just an opinion and I value when people come to you and want you to do good,” he said.
As awe inspiring as his words are; in life there comes a time when talk is no longer enough and one has to back it up with action.
And, unfortunately, the time for action is nigh for the 61-year-old Paarl-born tactician.
The Sables kick off their 2018 Gold Cup campaign this Saturday when they clash against Morocco at Harare Sports Club.
The match kicks off at 1:30PM.
While Namibia, Kenya and Uganda look to be the team’s biggest threat to booking a place at next year’s IRB World Cup in Japan; Morocco pose a different and more complex challenge for De Villiers and his men.
For one, it will be the former Springbok coach’s first official assignment and nothing short of an emphatic victory will do.
A resounding victory will set the right tone for rest of the team’s Gold Cup campaign and by extension PDV’s reign at the helm of the Sables unit. However, very little is known about the North Africans aside.
But De Villiers appears to have found a way to spin the situation, the only way he can.
“We have struggled to get some footage of Morocco, nobody seems to have anything on them, so that will just make me concentrate on how we want to play and shut all the doors for them,” said the Sables gaffer.
“After this, all the games will be televised so that’s when we can start to look at the strengths and weaknesses of our competition, but for this one we just have to concentrate on what we want to do for 95 percent of the game.
“Going forward, it will be 80 percent about us and 20 percent for our opponents,” he said.
De Villiers believes the lack of knowledge on his opponents to be a blessing in disguise.
“It can actually give us the edge on concentrating on what we want to do,” he said.
“That’s where sometimes we go wrong, because we end up concentrating too much on the opposition and then on the day they don’t do what we expect them to do, then we are found wanting.
“Although they might know something about us, they still have to stop us and that is our focus now.
“Let them come,” he said.
The Sables go into camp today, with the 61-year-old expected to finally name his final squad in the coming days.