On any other day, Jomo Sono, Roger De Sá, Dan “Dance” Malesela and Muhsin Ertugral would be shouting instructions from the dugout of the elite league.
But this afternoon, the quartet will be the focal point of today’s National First Division (NFD) programme as they continue their bid for a return to the Absa Premiership.
In what can be easily dubbed as NFD’s Super Sunday, Malesela’s TS Galaxy will host Ertugral’s Ajax Cape Town at Kameelrivier Stadium in Mpumalanga, while De Sá will be eager to put one over his close friend Sono when Cape Umoya United visit Cosmos in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni.
What makes the Cosmos versus Umoya clash even more interesting is the fact that this fixture pits the coaches against each other.
De Sá and a Cape Town-based consortium bought Platinum Stars and renamed it Umoya at the beginning of this campaign.
“We always talk weekly with Jomo, but he decided to hibernate this week,” joked De Sá, who last faced off against Sono in an official fixture during the promotional play-offs in June.
“That game was a dead rubber,” recalled De Sá of the match that Cosmos won 2-1 on aggregate after a goalless draw in the opening round, as the two sides were beaten to promotion by Black Leopards.
He anticipated a different game this afternoon: “Cosmos are always strong defensively and they are also physical; these are probably the two biggest characteristics you’re almost guaranteed to experience when you play them.”
That Umoya are one of the least-scoring sides with just three goals in six league outings worries De Sá, even though they do not concede much, either.
“Goal-scoring is one area we are trying to improve in. We are creating opportunities, but our conversion rate is not so great,” admitted the former Orlando Pirates coach.
Meanwhile, Ertugral is also excited about another confrontation with Malesela, whom he rates highly.
“I respect the work of coach Malesela; he is a positive person who likes his teams to play entertaining football,” observed Ertugral, who is still reeling from a 1-0 loss to Richards Bay last weekend.
“We are bracing ourselves for a very exciting game, while also looking forward to the great atmosphere there. Players like to play in front of the crowds and this is good for football.”
Ertugral pointed to lapses in concentration in their back-to-back defeats on the road.
“I cannot fault our boys because we are still trying to fit into the style of play in the NFD. So far, the standard of football and officiating has been good, and so are the fields.
“The mission is to bring the boys back [to the Premiership] as quickly as possible,” added Ertugral.
Malesela’s side are still basking in glory after registering their first victory of the campaign with a 2-0 win over Witbank Spurs last weekend.
“We must guard against celebrating one win because it puts pressure on us to prove a point that we can win again,” warned Malesela, who took over at Galaxy last month.
He said the players were slowly warming to his philosophy and he paid homage to their loyal fans.
“It is very rare to get this kind of support from fans, especially at this level.
“We must repay the loyalty of our fans by making sure that we stop teams from taking points from us. We are lagging behind in terms of the points,” said Malesela, whose side has seven points from six games.