In a week in which coaching musical chairs hit three Absa Premiership sides, history also repeated itself in the NFD’s GladAfrica Championship.
Renowned nomadic coach Vladislav Heric recently made Free State Stars his 15th career club when he accepted the job at the Bethlehem-based club.
This is a statistic the 53-year-old Serb is not entirely proud of as he was hoping for a longer stay at Ubuntu Cape Town, the relegated NFD outfit he joined late last year, but he couldn’t save them from being demoted to the ABC Motsepe League.
It’s an ironic twist that Stars, who were relegated from the Absa Premiership at the end of last season, have turned to Heric, who last guided a team to premiership promotion in 2014 – a mission he achieved with Chippa United.
It is also a strange coincidence that Heric’s latest move came when Chippa parted ways with their coach Clinton Larsen, and his other former club, Black Leopards, also sacked their tactician Lionel Soccio this week.
AmaZulu also fired Cavin Johnson and replaced him with Heric’s compatriot Jozef Vukušic.
“When the big guns get humiliated, who are we in the NFD to survive [the chop]?” said Heric in jest.
His mandate is clear – guide Stars to an immediate return to the top league. This is a target that has eluded some of the former premier division sides, including Jomo Cosmos and Swallows FC, who still find it an uphill battle to regain their elite division status.
“We all know the mandate. The clubs will ask for promotion. I’ll do my best, but it’s not going to be easy.
“The NFD is much more complicated – all of the top 10 teams are scrambling for promotion, but in the PSL, you already know who the big guns are, making it easy to plan for opposition,” Heric said.
Stars have endured a difficult start to life in the NFD. Ea Lla Koto face Richards Bay this afternoon, chasing their first win after losing or drawing in four games in a row.
Stars picked up only their second point of the season last weekend in Heric’s first game in charge – a 1-1 home draw against TS Sporting.
“I have already put in some extra work. At least I am working with the people who know football.
“Rantsi Mokoena and Mike Mokoena [Stars general manager and owner, respectively] have been very supportive since I got here. On the field, Paulus Masehe has been helping a lot with his huge experience,” Heric said.
“We’ll try to get the positive results and reach the highest position on the log as soon as possible.”
Heric is assisted by the club’s loyal servant Themba Sithole, who held the reins after Stars parted ways with coach Nikola Kavazovic following the club’s relegation.
Stars also lost some of their best players in roving defender Nyiko Mobbie and midfielder Makhehleni Makhaula, who joined Mamelodi Sundowns and Highlands Park, respectively, while others were released due to the meagre grants in the NFD.