Cape Town - Kosta Papic is to embark on a major overhaul at Polokwane City, dumping several of the established players and turning to youth to try and save the club from relegation.
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The new coach of the struggling Premier Soccer League club had his first outing on the bench on Sunday – after the belated delivery of a new work permit – and saw the Limpopo side put up a gutsy showing in going down 2-1 to Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knockout in Soweto.
Papic made six changes to the City line-up that lost their last league match 3-0 at home to champions Mamelodi Sundowns, bringing in two debutants and several others who have had limited game time this season.
He admitted afterwards he had not expected much of his side but was pleasantly surprised by their fighting spirit, particularly after debutant Tokelo Langa gave City an early lead with a spectacular left footed strike from outside the penalty box.
“I was very surprised. We tried to win the game and if we continue to play like this I think it will be easy to achieve out goal which is not be relegated.’
It is the first time in my career that I’m working with a club whose goal is to stay up rather than to win trophies,” Papic added in an aside.
“I’m going to impose my system and my style. I see a nice light at the end of the tunnel.
“There are still three more players that I want to look at and I will give them a chance in a friendly match that we will play this week.”
It means the future for veterans like Thapelo Tshilo, Benson Mhlongo and Elias Ngwepe is now under threat. They were all dropped on Sunday but Papic did use the 37-year-old Joseph Musonda at fullback,
Polokwane City’s next league outing is away at fellow strugglers Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday, October 19.
“For the first time in my career I’m grateful for the Fifa break. It now gives me two weeks with the boys before the next game. Fantastic,” he added.
City will also have top scorer Puleng Tlolane back at training this week and expect to get a work permit for the Ugandan import Boban Ziruntusa.
Papic marked his return to top flight football this season at Chippa United, having last had a job in the PSL with Kaizer Chiefs in 2007. But he lasted just a few games at the club in Port Elizabeth before moving to Polokwane.