It doesn’t rain, but pours for Aces

2011-02-26 15:48

Hiring Paul Dolezar was a recipe for disaster for struggling Aces, and showed signs of desperation.

When the maverick Dolezar, dubbed “the Sir Alex Ferguson of South African soccer” by the club’s CEO, Mark Grune, returned to these shores, he thought football was still the same as when he had left it a few years ago.

Dolezar had so lost touch with South African football, he did not even know the game had progressed so much that Benedict Vilakazi was no longer “the hot property”.

He surprised all and sundry by putting 15 players on transfer, and recruited new players – most of whom had not been playing at their clubs.

More puzzling was the appointment of Shakes Kungwane as his assistant and Marc ­Batchelor as fitness trainer.

Since Dolezar’s arrival, Aces had registered only one victory ­under his guidance as they huffed and puffed throughout his stay.

Last week he conceded that his team was a “20-minute side” – a sign that Batchelor was not doing a great job when it came to players’ fitness.

Dolezar, however, was not the only one to blame.

The cracks had always been there, from the beginning of the season.

After avoiding the drop to the National First Division by a whisker, Aces’ management went all out to recruit 16 new players at the beginning of the season.

Then, after only three games in charge, coach Savvas ­Agiomamitis was shown the door after having lost the opening games.

Aces turned to the former Bafana Bafana coach, Neil Tovey, but he too was fired, this time after nine games in charge.

Under Tovey, Aces beat Orlando Pirates away and drew two more of Tovey’s first four games in charge.

But then they lost five in a row, which led to his sacking.

Then came the Frenchman last month, but out of a possible 27 points Dolezar managed to secure just three, despite the club having signed many new players and Dolezar disposing of 15 of the squad’s members who had campaigned in the first half of the season.

His only win was against defending league champions ­SuperSport United, who have been conceding goals this season.

City Press has learned that players wanted to see the back of Dolezar to the extent of faking injuries.

A high-ranking Aces official, who did not want to be named, said players were gatvol with the flamboyant Frenchman for being disrespectful towards them and chastising them in the media.

“Players no longer wanted to play for him; hence the team was so poor. He has brought nothing but misery to the side and at this rate we will not survive relegation,” said the official.

He said the players felt that Dolezar was not the right man for the job.

“Everything is about him and he does not encourage the players. The team will never win, as their morale is very low.”

Last week Dolezar took a swipe at striker Mpho Maleka, saying that his mind was no longer at the club after he had apparently signed a pre-contract with ­SuperSport.

Dolezar blamed poor discipline for the team’s downfall.

He said the players were not following his instructions and played only when they wanted to.

“Something has to change, because we cannot go on like this. My players play for only 20 minutes and then they think the game is over,” Doleza r said after a 3-0 defeat to Bidvest Wits.

And indeed something did happen this week. Aces are in danger of becoming the worst club in top-flight history.

Although they still have a chance to survive the drop if they win all their nine remaining matches while hoping their ­rivals lose too, the odds are heavily stacked against them.

Seven points separate Aces from 15th-placed Moroka Swallows, with Maritzburg United a further three points ahead of the Dube Birds in 14th spot.

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