Qualifying for the Nedbank Cup final with Pretoria Callies would be extra sweet for coach Joel Masutha.
Callies will take on Chippa United in the semifinal of the Ke Yona Cup on Saturday.
The game will come just a week after Chippa, Masutha’s former club, was embroiled in a coaching fiasco.
The club fired admired coach Dan Malesela and attempted to hire Luc Eymael, who has been accused of racism, under the guise of the Belgian being a technical adviser.
Chippa subsequently succumbed to public and political pressure to withdraw Eymael’s appointment.
Masutha knows the working environment at the Gqeberha club all too well. The 51-year-old was fired twice from the Chilli Boys.
Not only would it be a huge personal accomplishment for him, but Callies would be only the fourth first-division side after AmaTuks, Black Leopards and TS Galaxy to qualify for the final of the lucrative Nedbank Cup.
The tactician from Venda, Limpopo, is intent on securing a final berth for Callies at the expense of his former employer.
“The difference between there [Chippa] and where I’m working now is like night and day. [At Callies] I’m given all the support I need to do my job. Finally, I’ve found a club that allows me to do my job uninterrupted,” said Masutha.
“I’ve been at Chippa and was fired twice. At the end of the day, if a person invests their money in a club, they have the right to decide who the coach is. Football is a business.”
Masutha arrived at the novice GladAfrica Championship club when they had already qualified for the semifinals under coach Sammy Troughton, who was axed last month. Before yesterday’s league match against JDR Stars, Masutha guided Callies to a goalless draw against Cosmos and a 1-0 win over Polokwane City.
“Credit must go to the coaches who were here before I came. They’ve done an incredible job with this good group of players. My job is to prepare for the semis like any other game. The players mustn’t get too excited and should focus on playing a normal game of football,” said the former Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila coach.
Callies earned promotion in difficult circumstances last year when the conclusion of the ABC Motsepe League was prolonged due to the national Covid-19-enforced lockdown.
Eventually, Callies and Bizana Pondo Chiefs qualified for the professional ranks in October.
The two clubs were immensely disadvantaged because they entered the transfer window after other clubs had already signed top players. Pondo Chiefs are struggling in the second-tier league, where they’re at the bottom of the table, while Callies have managed to hold their own.
Masutha said this was down to the solid foundation laid by the management team at the Pretoria club, led by chair Moses Malada.
“The first division isn’t easy, but in the first season you can see that Callies are there to be counted and the team is giving a good account of themselves,” said Masutha, who guided Black Leopards to promotion three years ago.