Newsmaker: Steering the Bucs’ ship

2017-02-26 06:10
Orlando Pirates’ new head coach Kjell Jonevret believes he is up to the task of turning the team’s fortunes around. Picture: Dudu Mathebula

Orlando Pirates’ new head coach Kjell Jonevret believes he is up to the task of turning the team’s fortunes around. Picture: Dudu Mathebula

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Johannesburg - After four days in the country, new Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret probably still felt like he was in Europe – the Swede arrived in an unusually wet and cold week in Joburg as the temperature dropped to less than 20°C.

“But I’m not complaining as it is about 0°C in Stockholm at the moment,” he chuckles.

The 54-year-old is an open book – what you see is what you get, and he’s honest and transparent.

After taking on his first training session at Rand Stadium in Rosettenville on Wednesday, the Swede speaks freely about his love for our beautiful country – from braais to Moyo restaurant.

But he confesses that, since arriving in the country last Sunday, he has not had a chance to eat too much – his favourite pastime.

“People here are friendly, but there are too many cars in Johannesburg. I hope I will get used to this very soon,” he says about the city.

Jonevret says he fell in love with the country when he came here with his former clubs during winter breaks in Norway and Sweden. So when the opportunity to coach Pirates presented itself, he did not hesitate to take it on.

So urgently are his services needed here, the married father of two confesses that he did not have time for goodbyes, but hopes his wife will join him soon.

He arrived just a day before he was unveiled as the new Bucs coach.

“I only came here with a small bag and a few things because it was so sudden. I could not resist the temptation because it is not often that coaches from Scandinavia get jobs here, so I jumped at the opportunity. This is an adventure for me and it will be nice if it works.”

He believes he is up to the task and ready for the challenge of steering the Bucs’ ship to safety.

"Good days and bad days"

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the soccer team from Orlando, but it has not yet won a match this year.

“In my world – in fact, all over the world – coaches get a job because the team is down on the log. I have done it a few times and it worked. You normally get hired in the middle of the season, and you try your best to rescue the situation – that is what I am here for.”

He says he wants to turn Pirates into a mean machine, but is under no illusion that it will be an easy mission.

“In football, you have some good days and bad days, but we must always strive for the best in whatever we do. I can’t promise to win all the games, but we will do our best in every game.”

Jonevret is a firm believer in team spirit and unity, and wants to see a united team – from the supporters to the players.

“Firstly, I want to see how the players react to my coaching philosophy as I will maybe change a few things. I want us to be a big team again. I have seen a few games and realise the players lack confidence because they used to win games before, but not any more.

"I want to see progress in what we are trying to do in training. I want to see the players step up again and help one another.”

He says he grew up playing both football and ice hockey, but he stuck to his first love – football.

“I’m very privileged to be still working with my hobby and my first love.”

He also reveals that he once worked as an estate agent – selling houses to make a living as football was not a professional sport in Sweden.

But since he moved on to coaching 15 years ago, he has never looked back.

He says he is happy with what he saw during his first training session as the players were out to impress him.

He says South African players have a lot of potential, but are sometimes too shy to express themselves fully.

“They have a good balance and lot of talent, but maybe they are not always organised and they lack the self-belief that they will be top players. I am here to make a difference in their careers, and I hope I will add value.”

He says he enjoyed working with African players in both Sweden and Norway.

“African players always give you a smile, even when things are tough, and I enjoyed working with them.”

He confesses that he does not know much about South Africa, except for what he has read, but wants to experience more.

“I know the situation and the history of the country. I have a few friends in Cape Town and have been here before, but knowing something after reading it and experiencing it are two different things. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to go out as I have been meeting people and trying to settle in since I arrived.”

The Swede is looking forward to two things this year: helping Pirates achieve their goal of finishing in a respectable position this season, and becoming a big daddy – a grandfather – later in the year.

Oh, and sunshine when going to the FNB Stadium for the first time during the Soweto Derby on Saturday. He says he only saw the stadium before it was completed for the 2010 World Cup.

Read more on:    orlando pirates  |  johannesburg

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