The coaches behind the teams
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
The Absa Premiership race has become quite intriguing and has in the process provided for some interesting as well as serious food for thought.
As things stand, many will agree that the title is for Kaizer Chiefs to lose.
They are perched at the summit of the table with 52 spoils from 25 outings with Platinum Stars breathing down their necks with 48 while arch-rivals Orlando Pirates are on 46.
Today, I would like to look at the background to the appointment of the three coaches in charge of these three clubs.
When Kaizer “Chincha Guluva” Motaung announced that Briton Stuart Baxter was to take charge of Amakhosi with a view of reviving their diminishing fortunes, many cynics frowned and thought he had lost the plot.
Worse still when he said Baxter’s first assignment was to bring the league title to Naturena where it had last set foot in 2005.
Many judged Baxter by his previous record here in South Africa with Bafana Bafana.
It might be a bit premature to say Motaung has been vindicated as the saying goes that it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but suffice to say Baxter has really changed the mentality at Kaizer Chiefs.
The players are playing with a newfound verve and confidence week in and week out and unless disaster strikes, they are in line for a league and Nedbank Cup double.
And then there is Orlando Pirates.
Boss, Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza decided to put Roger de Sa on the hot seat of the club that had unprecedented ambitions of defending a double-treble they had amassed in the previous two seasons.
To say things have gone pear-shaped at the Buccaneers, would be to put it mildly.
Right now, they have played six successive draws in the league and many of their followers have already thrown in the towel even before the famous fat lady hits the first note.
Now many are calling for De Sa’s head. Some are even saying we told you that he was not ready to coach a club as big as Orlando Pirates.
Social networks are full of messages criticising the coach.
Following their 1-1 draw to Free State Stars on Wednesday night, Pirates have a mammoth task of facing DRC’s glamour club TP Mazembe at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
This is yet another Mount Everest for the beleaguered De Sa to climb given that the Congolese club owned by one of the richest men in that country, Moise Katumbi, is no slouch’s and have even previously represented Africa at the World Club Championships.
Turning focus away from De Sa, the same response as that appointment of Baxter and the Pirates coach, welcomed the appointment of Cavan Johnson as Platinum Stars coach.
Many raised the point that he had never been fully in charge of a PSL side at that time and had only served as an understudy to a number of coaches.
Now the owners of the one of the richest clubs in the country, are beaming from ear to ear as their club is not only placed second on the league table, they are also still in with a shout in the Nedbank Cup, having reached the semifinal stage where they will face SuperSport United.
The question is: When is a coach ready to coach a big club and win things? Was Khoza wrong in appointing De Sa to guide the Sea Robbers?
In answering these questions, one needs t take into consideration the outcry that has existed for a long time about black coaches as well as young coaches not being given a chance in this country with preference to white European coaches being made.
I don’t think Khoza was wrong. He gave De Sa a chance and if the results do not come by, he will just have to do what has happened to previous coaches.
I know, general belief is that you don’t experiment with Chiefs and Pirates but sometimes it has to be done and it will either work on not but we will never know unless it is tried.
The season is not over yet. Maybe this conversation will be wrapped up once the five remaining league games have been finalised and the three (two semi-finals and final) Nedbank matches are history.
Or, as the saying goes once the fat lady has sung!S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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