Salute exceptional local coaches

2015-07-01 06:05
Teboho Letshaba, Journalist. 

Teboho Letshaba, Journalist. Foto:

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THE appointment of more local coaches to take charge of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs will, without a doubt, usher in a new era.

For the first time since the inception of the PSL nearly two decades ago, the big three – league champions Kaizer Chiefs, Nebank Cup holders Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates – will all have local mentors in charge.

This is yet another indication that the coaching standard in the country is growing in leaps and bounds. At the end of the 2014-’15 season, four clubs – Free State Stars, Kaizer Chiefs, Mpumalanga Black Aces and Polokwane City – had foreign coaches at the helm.

Tuks, as the University of Pretoria is known in football circles, had joint-coaches in Samuel “Sammy” Troughton and Selaotse “Sly” Mosala.

In the top-eight bracket, the Amakhosi club had Scott Stuart Baxter as the only foreign coach leading the race. And the appointment of 47-year-old Mbuyiselo Stephen “Steve” Komphela to take over from Baxter, his ex-Bafana Bafana boss, should by no means be seen as a step backwards for the Phefeni Glamour Boys.

Let me hasten to qualify my statement. Many would recall that the first ever PSL title to be contested in the 1996-’97 season was won by the erstwhile Durban club, Manning Rangers, under the tutelage of Gordon Igesund. Then aged 41, Igesund remains the youngest ever coach to lift the PSL title.

One would not be at fault for suggesting that the Bafana Bafana coaching job was something of a poisoned chalice for both Igesund and Pitso Mosimane. But fact remains, the two gentlemen are not bad football trainers after all. They have proven themselves to be master tacticians at club level.

Igesund has won the league with four different clubs, namely Rangers, Orlando Pirates (2000-’01), Santos (2001-’02) and Mamelodi Sundowns (2006-’07). He added another feather to his cap by winning the 2000 BP Top 8 with Orlando Pirates and the 2014 Telkom Knockout with SuperSport United.

Mosimane, then aged 37, was thrown in the lion’s den by SuperSport in October 2001 following the sacking of the Durban-born former Zimbabwe and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar who was a coach at Matsatsantsa a Pitori. It was Jingles, as Mosimane is fondly known, who turned the once unfashionable club into a feared side.

To his credit, Mosimane lifted two trophies with SuperSport United, the 2004 SAA Supa 8 and 2005 Absa Cup. The Tshwane club has been in five cup finals under Mosimane. In addition, Mosimane became the first black South African coach to win the league with Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2013-’14 season. He even lifted the Nedbank Cup with the deposed league champions.

When Mosimane arrived at Sundowns midway through the 2012-’13 season, the club was in the relegation quagmire under the Dutchman Johan Neeskens, but Jingles turned the fading Brazilians club into a formidable force to be reckoned with.

It would be a gross injustice not to mention Gavin Hunt, who holds a unique record of becoming the only coach in PSL history to win the league title three times in a row with the selfsame SuperSport United between 2007 and 2010.

Hunt, whose playing career was cut short by a horrific knee injury, led Seven Stars to the PSL promotion after winning the 1997-’98 First Division Coastal Stream.

He further transformed the modest Black Leopards so much that he was voted the 2001-’02 Coach of the Year – the award he also won in 2008 while with SuperSport United.

Of utmost importance, 51-year-old Hunt won the 2005 Absa Cup with Moroka Swallows and the 2012 Nedbank Cup with SuperSport United by inflicting a 2-0 defeat to their cross-town rivals Mamelodi Sundowns.

Hunt, Igesund, Mosimane and former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs captain, Neil Tovey, are the only South African coaches to have ever lifted the league trophy.

However, it should be noted that Tovey was co-coach with the Argentine Miguel Gamondi when Mamelodi Sundowns won the 2005-’06 league trophy.

Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Eric Tinkler is one such individual who deserves special mention. He took over the coaching reins at Orlando Pirates in November after the obstinate Vladimir Vermezovic had finally accepted that he was not wanted and bade the Buccaneers farewell.

Under Tinkler, Bucs became the highest-scoring club in the league with 46 goals – five more than champions Kaizer Chiefs. The Buccaneers are the only club who currently hoist South Africa’s flag aloft on the continent. They have progressed to the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup.

The point I’m raising here is that if given a fair chance, some local coaches have proved that they can punch way above their weight limit.) Teboho Letshaba, SABC journalist, writes in his personal capacity

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