How to do a Male­sela turn­around

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­

When Dan “Dance” Male­sela ar­rived at Chippa United in De­cem­ber, the man­date from the club’s owner, Siviwe “Chippa” Mpen­gesi, was to save them from rel­e­ga­tion. Male­sela, who came in as as­sis­tant coach, re­called telling his boss: “I never play to save teams from rel­e­ga­tion, but we play to com­pete for the top.”

Nine games later, United are in the mix among the teams con­test­ing for top-eight berths in the Absa Premier­ship.

The Chilli Boys are sixth on the Premier­ship stand­ings af­ter their loss to Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

“The chal­lenge is, I have this thing of giv­ing peo­ple hope that big­ger things will come from the teams I coach. They start see­ing good foot­ball and get ex­cited, with­out leav­ing room that we are bound to lose some matches along the way.”

This may ex­plain why Male­sela has never re­ally en­joyed the fruits of his labour de­spite be­ing lauded by many for the good brand of struc­tured foot­ball that is now his sig­na­ture wher­ever he goes ( see box).

“There are a lot of peo­ple out there who have the in­flu­ence on the own­ers of the clubs, and sadly the quick­est so­lu­tion to prob­lems is al­ways to fire or fight. Foot­ball is a process and I am not a ma­gi­cian,” said the leg­endary for­mer Mamelodi Sun­downs and Or­lando Pi­rates de­fender.

The se­cret be­hind Male­sela’s coach­ing phi­los­o­phy is crafted from the smart way in which he con­ducts his team’s train­ing ses­sions.

“I de­sign sim­ple ex­er­cises and drills. I al­ways en­gage with my play­ers to es­tab­lish if our strate­gies work or not. For any­thing that doesn’t work, we stop to get ev­ery­one to think about the bet­ter way of do­ing it. I also ex­plain why we do cer­tain ex­er­cises,” he said.

“I also don’t be­lieve in mak­ing play­ers run hard. How many times do you see play­ers run­ning over 50m on the field? They just stand there most of the time. In­stead, a soc­cer ball is there ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment in our train­ing, ex­cept for dur­ing mind games ses­sions, where a ball is not in­volved.”

Male­sela (50), who hails from At­teridgeville, Pre­to­ria, has achieved a lot with mostly young play­ers, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing his time in the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD).

“I al­ways in­vest in young play­ers to give us mileage, be­cause they have the en­ergy. I am proud to see some of the boys who came through my hands do­ing so well – there’s Kea­gan Dolly [at Sun­downs], Buhle Mkhwanazi, Jab­u­lani Shongwe [both Bid­vest Wits], Siyanda Xulu [Kaizer Chiefs], Kwanda Mn­gonyama [Mar­itzburg United]...”

Male­sela is also renowned for giv­ing hope to play­ers re­jected by their clubs.

The likes of David Zulu (on loan from Chiefs), Joseph Molan­goane, Ruben Cloete (both for­mer Pi­rates) and Lerato Manzini (ex-Bloem­fontein Celtic) are just some of those whose ca­reers have been re­vived by the for­mer Pi­rates cap­tain.

Then there is the unique story of Xola Mlambo, the 24-year-old mid­fielder who has been a rev­e­la­tion for United lately.

Male­sela brought his charge to Cape Town All Stars when he was coach­ing the NFD side last year.

“Xola was re­leased by All Stars just a week af­ter they fired me. I took him from the Sun­downs ABC Mot­sepe League side be­cause I saw po­ten­tial in him as Premier­ship ma­te­rial. He finds him­self in the [top league] with me de­spite play­ing just a few games in the NFD.”

Mlambo scored in United’s 2-0 win over Free State Stars last week­end, a vic­tory that was the Port El­iz­a­beth-based side’s third in a row and one of the rea­sons for Male­sela’s unique cel­e­bra­tions on the touch­line.

“Those cel­e­bra­tions are just to re­lieve the ten­sion, but at the same time I think we score beau­ti­ful goals worth cel­e­brat­ing.”

Even more to cel­e­brate is that Male­sela’s side is now in with a good chance of hand­ing Chippa his first top-eight fin­ish in the club’s sev­enyear his­tory.

“The owner [Mpen­gesi] is very sup­port­ive of this club and he has pas­sion for the game. He told me when I ar­rived that he was tired of fir­ing and hir­ing coaches. It’s go­ing to be a bit chal­leng­ing to pre­serve our top spot – but since any­thing can hap­pen, we won’t move down.”

Tac­tics are not only Male­sela’s job at United – he has es­tab­lished a fam­ily at­mos­phere around his team.

“I am try­ing to build re­spon­si­ble men. We have a What­sApp group where we con­stantly mo­ti­vate each other.”


MAS­TER Dan ‘Dance’ Male­sela has shaped Chippa United



TRUMP CARD Xola Mlambo has been a rev­e­la­tion

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