Former Bafana Bafana defender Nasief Morris has come a long way from his junior days at Beacon Valley FC, which later became Beacon Spurs.
Morris also honed his skills as a tough tackler for Santos and later Greek giants Panathinaikos, and has now taken another step in his coaching career, after joining National First Division (NFD) side Steenberg United as their new head coach.
Morris cut his coaching teeth at Ikapa Sporting, after a short stint at Milano United and finally hanging up his playing boots.
He has now replaced Theo Hempe as the Steenberg mentor and will be assisted by another former Milano man, Zane Ryklief.
The well-travelled journeyman takes over the reins at a Steenberg side that looks ambitious in terms of doing well in the NFD and, possibly being in line to fight for promotion to the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
That, of course, is not going to be easy. It is no secret that playing in the NFD is no child’s play and teams have to deal with a lot of challenges in order to get themselves into top-flight league, the PSL. And, one doesn’t have to look beyond Cape Town to get an idea of how tough it is down there.
Ajax Cape Town (now called Cape Town Spurs), for instance, tried twice to get back to the premier league, without luck. They came close last season but failed to make it past the play-off stages.
And, that was after they sat on top of the standings for most of the campaign, before succumbing in the last moments.
Another well-documented story is that of Morris’s former side, Santos, who never really recovered after being relegated back in 2012.
Steenberg, to their credit, have shown guts and character in the past season. The side finished ninth in last season’s first division standings with 38 points after winning nine, drawing 11 and losing 10 of their 30 matches. That was 19 short of eventual winners Swallows’ 57.
The Steenberg side were good in front of goal, scoring 35 and conceding 37 goals in the process.
No doubt, the former Bafana Bafana international will look to take the side into the top eight and even higher up the standings, come next season. And there are a lot of positives to draw from, especially looking at their run in the previous campaign.
In an interview with the Plainsman, Morris discussed his short, mid and long-term plans for the club, as well as the kind of football he wants them to play.
He also admitted that he and his charges have a tough task ahead of them. He was, however, quick to note that they are ready for whatever challenges that come their way.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
“There have, of course, been some uncertainties at times. But now we are ready to go. I am also aware that I am new, when it comes to coaching at this level but, having said that, I have the experience. I have, for instance, coached at the ABC Motsepe League and that experience will come in handy,” he said.
Having played football at the highest level including Greece, where he featured regularly in the UEFA Champions League, his presence alone might be enough motivation for the players to do even better. He was however, clear that that alone won’t be enough; they would need to work hard too.
“Of course I want to be a role model and inspire the players. I hope that what I am planning for the side will be grasped by the players as early as possible. I have a couple of plans in place regarding how I want the team to play. Now I need to get the players to understand that, and the formations we will be playing.”