Mark Gleeson

Bucs fall at Botswana hurdle

2010-03-01 07:25
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

No South African side has ever before suffered the ignominy of defeat by a club from one of our neighbouring countries but there was always a feeling Orlando Pirates were going to duff it this weekend.

The Buccaneers are out at the first hurdle of the African Champions League in an embarrassing setback. They conceded two goals in the last stages of Sunday’s home match with Gaborone United of Botswana and were eliminated on the away goals rule.

It is the first time a team from Botswana - or for that matter Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique or Swaziland - has ever knocked a South African side out of the annual African club competition.

It speaks eloquently of the malaise at Orlando Pirates where a dysfunction command structure is finally coming home to roost.

Coach Ruud Krol’s future must now be starkly in question after an uninspiring season, even though he still has one more year of his original deal to serve.

He has spent much of the campaign shrugging his shoulders at the myriad of missed chances from his team. Pirates have turned squandering scoring chances into an art form over the last months.

To miss that much, again in Sunday’s match at the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, smacks of an indifferent attitude from the players. 

Pirates carry too many passengers and even though they have enough talent to be SA champions, they obviously lacked the willpower and mental fortitude to fight for the title.

That much was evident in the series of goalless draws from around Christmas onwards that effectively saw them drop out of the PSL title race.

Krol, for the first time, made reference at a post-match press conference after the recent derby to the fact he is not responsible for the form, having not had any hand in buying the players.

Pirates is just one of several South African sides where the coach has little or no input into the question of player purchase. That is done higher up the food chain by the owner/chairperson, usually on the advice of a third person.

It means the coach feels little responsibility to build or mould a team to fit his ideas, yet is expected to come up with the winning tactics with what is put before him. It is a formula for mediocrity, as evidenced over the last months.

SuperSport United have proved success comes from taking a longer-term view, building up a squad and having the patience to allow its development. Picking the right coach is key and then giving him responsibility even more important.

Teams where the chairperson is the defacto coach are going to fail in an era where the competition is so intense that expert knowledge is essential for success.

Pirates, and others, need to head in a new direction if they are to avoid plummeting to the depths of losing to amateur teams from Botswana.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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