Siyavutha boss’ cor­po­rate ap­proach works

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTH­OWA­GAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

When the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD) re­sumes this week, the spot­light will be on Wit­bank Spurs, who are hard to ig­nore at sec­ond on the log.

They are four points adrift of lead­ers Baroka FC, a side Spurs handed their first loss of the sea­son to in Oc­to­ber.

The Mpumalanga-based out­fit has en­joyed their best cam­paign in years, es­pe­cially af­ter fin­ish­ing just above the rel­e­ga­tion zone last sea­son.

It was in­evitable that the club’s change of for­tunes would be cred­ited to co-owner and coach Themba Mafu – who, like Jomo Sono – ranks among few owner-coaches in the coun­try.

“It started with me pay­ing more at­ten­tion to Spurs be­cause I was pre­vi­ously fo­cus­ing on my other busi­nesses,” said the 51-year-old Mafu.

Like Jomo Cos­mos coun­ter­part Sono, busi­ness­man and fam­ily man Mafu wears many hats. He is his club’s chair­per­son and coach.

“I have sur­rounded my­self with ca­pa­ble peo­ple in cer­tain ar­eas; it’s not a one-man show in my busi­ness em­pire. I can’t be hu­man re­sources man­ager, fi­nance man­ager or op­er­a­tions man­ager to get the busi­ness go­ing,” said Mafu, who is as­sisted at the club by Eu­gene Soppo, who dou­bles as the goal­keeper trainer.

The re­sults are there for ev­ery­one to see since he as­sumed the reins from a tech­ni­cal bench of co-coaches mid­way into last year’s cam­paign.

“Siyavutha”, as Spurs are known to their fol­low­ers, have recorded seven wins in 12 matches with two draws and three loses so far this sea­son.

The feat in­cludes a six-match un­beaten run be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber. The team recorded only seven wins in the whole of last sea­son, when they es­caped rel­e­ga­tion by nine points.

“At the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, we took a cor­po­rate ap­proach. Play­ers went through an in­duc­tion process and work­shops be­fore they kicked a ball.

“Every­one knows our ob­jec­tives. We con­sis­tently re­view and rate our per­for­mance af­ter matches.”

He added: “We also looked at the re­cruit­ment pol­icy and our suc­ces­sion plan. We re­in­forced key de­part­ments – goal­keep­ing, de­fence and the strike force.”

Some of the club’s ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in­clude for­mer Kaizer Chiefs de­fender Tha­bang Rooi and striker Joshua Sauls, signed from rel­e­gated GaRankuwa United.

Striker and lead­ing scorer Cleopas Dube has set­tled well in his sec­ond sea­son with the club.

Mafu said he wanted Spurs to be as com­pet­i­tive as pos­si­ble to repli­cate its tra­di­tion of hav­ing pro­duced, among oth­ers, Rooi Ma­hamutsa (Or­lando Pi­rates), In­no­cent Mdle­dle (ex-Pi­rates) and Frank Makua (for­mer Chiefs).

“In the NFD, whether you like it or not, we play for pro­mo­tion, un­like in the pre­mier di­vi­sion, where some clubs just want to main­tain their [Premier­ship] sta­tus.”

Spurs will re­sume their league cam­paign against Mi­lano in Cape Town on Satur­day. Siyavutha will also face San­tos in the NFD Ned­bank Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion round at the Puma Rugby Sta­dium on Tues­day.

Mafu un­der­lined the im­por­tance of pro­gress­ing to the proper draw of the lu­cra­tive com­pe­ti­tion, de­spite Spurs also eye­ing pro­mo­tion.

“The Ned­bank Cup is an op­por­tu­nity we hardly have in the NFD. It’s good for the brand be­cause clubs get ex­po­sure, es­pe­cially as most of the matches are tele­vised.”

PHOTO: ASH­LEY VLOT­MAN / GALLO IM­AGES

MR GOALS Cleopas Dube

has been bang­ing them in for Wit­bank

Spurs

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

BIG BOSS Themba Mafu calls the shots at his club

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