Why are mighty Bucs on their knees?

2011-11-26 19:58

The Orlando Pirates ship has been wracked by ill-discipline and coach Julio Leal’s failure to take charge of the dressing room.

City Press has established through club officials and a number of players who spoke on condition of anonymity that there is more than meets the eye at the club.

One official went as far as saying the Brazilian-born mentor was too soft on players, had favourites and that the team was divided into cliques of coloured and African players.

Leal, according to one of the players, is not a disciplinarian of note as compared to his predecessor, Ruud Krol.

The Buccaneers have been in troubled waters as they are eighth on the log, with four defeats, the total number of losses they suffered last season on their way to winning the league title.

Last week’s reports of Andile Jali and Ndumiso Mabena being charged – later withdrawn – with assault just exacerbated the situation.

The long-term injury to reliable defender Happy Jele couldn’t have come at a worse time for the beleaguered Leal.

About a month ago, Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza was quoted in the Sowetan newspaper as saying he was aware of the ill-discipline within the club.

The Jali and Mabena arrest case at a beer joint this week serves to confirm Khoza’s pronouncements.

A senior player said the pair are among the coach’s favoured players.

“He has his favourites and some of these boys take advantage of being the blue-eyed boys of the coach – it’s unfortunate but we’ll see how long it will last.”
 
Another player said “too much partying and girls” gets in the way.

“I am not surprised by the latest incident involving Jali and Mabena. (Bongani) Ndulula must also be careful not to get carried away.”

Club’s spokesperson Mickey Modisane said the duo were reprimanded.

“Some people are trying to undermine the club’s leadership. All these allegations are unfounded and are not even being investigated by the club.”

However, sources within the club have painted a different picture.

A top club official said some players don’t want Lucky Lekgwathi as captain and would rather he was replaced by goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.

This follows a fallout between Lekgwathi and some coloured players last season.

Another insider revealed that the coach seem to alienate other players as he often converse in Portuguese with striker Benni McCarthy, whih makes him seem a favourite.

“We only won the MTN8 trophy because of Krol’s influence as Leal had not changed anything then. Things are now falling apart as he has lost control of the dressing room,” said the insider.

The club’s spindoctor, Modisane, denied all this saying: “This is far from the truth as These are just baseless allegations.”

One official said the coach does not have the final say on team selection but management does.

“There are two guys who select the starting line-up,” refusing to name them.

The departure of administration manager Floyd Mbele is also said to have left a void.

“Floyd was tough on players and they knew they could not just do as they pleased. There is really no one to discipline them since he left,” said the official.

The source further added that one of the club’s security members has been asked to return from sick leave in a bid to remedy the situation.

Leal was brought after Krol won three titles last season but it looks like it will take some time before he commands the same respect and demonstrate the same no-nonsense approach as the Dutch-born mentor.

Krol even discarded crowd favourite Teko Modise but his unpopular decision was justified when he led the club to a treble and some players later went public that Modise was indeed a problem.

This page went to print before last night’s Telkom Cup semifinal against Lamontville Golden Arrows result.

That result will have more to about the coach’s future.


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