‘Sab­o­tage’ to be probed

Al­le­ga­tions of a se­cret pre-match meet­ing be­tween Pi­rates’ for­mer coach and club of­fi­cials have prompted Irvin Khoza to ‘get the facts’

CityPress - - Sport - S’BUSISO MSELEKU sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za

More heads are set to roll at Or­lando Pi­rates fol­low­ing the sud­den de­par­ture of coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral this week. Er­tuğral re­signed in a huff, fol­low­ing a hu­mil­i­at­ing 6-1 drub­bing by Su­per­Sport United in an Absa Pre­mier­ship match at Mbombela Sta­dium in Nel­spruit on Tues­day evening.

The de­feat sig­nalled the Buc­ca­neers’ worse loss in the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) since 1996.

The Turk made clear his in­ten­tion to re­sign on live tele­vi­sion in the post-match in­ter­view.

True to his word, he sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion let­ter via email to Pi­rates chair­man Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza in the early hours of Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

City Press has been in­formed by two highly placed sources within the club that, be­fore Er­tuğral’s de­par­ture, a se­cret meet­ing was held be­tween the coach and two high-rank­ing club of­fi­cials at Mel­rose Arch in north­ern Jo­han­nes­burg on Oc­to­ber 29, the eve of the Soweto Derby.

Both sources re­fused to di­vulge the con­tent of the con­ver­sa­tion and the pur­pose of the meet­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the sources, the fi­nal straw for Er­tuğral oc­curred when a Pi­rates of­fi­cial stormed into the dress­ing room on Tues­day and “took over, giv­ing play­ers in­struc­tions that were con­trary to the coach’s game plan”.

“This led to the to­tal col­lapse that was wit­nessed in the sec­ond half of the match, where we con­ceded six goals,” said the sources.

When asked about these star­tling rev­e­la­tions, Khoza said he was hear­ing this for the first time, but was quick to add that he was in the process of in­sti­tut­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened.

“I am hav­ing a ses­sion with the play­ers next week. It will be fol­lowed by an exit in­ter­view with the coach,” he said.

“At both meet­ings, I will also try to es­tab­lish the ve­rac­ity of what your sources have told you. Should it emerge that some­thing un­to­ward hap­pened, ac­cord­ing to what you have told me, there will be se­ri­ous con­se­quences for those im­pli­cated.”

Khoza said he was still gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing what led to the coach’s de­par­ture. “It is a pity the coach re­signed with­out dis­cussing with me what re­ally hap­pened.”

The chair said it was im­por­tant for him as a leader to get the facts be­fore tak­ing ac­tion.

Re­gard­ing his ap­point­ment of Au­gusto Pala­cios as the Buc­ca­neers’ in­terim coach, Khoza said he would be in charge for the six games re­main­ing this year.

The PSL goes into re­cess from mid-De­cem­ber un­til February to al­low Mamelodi Sun­downs the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the Fifa Club World Cup, tak­ing place next month, as well as to ac­com­mo­date the Africa Cup of Na­tions, which starts on Jan­uary 14.

“We will only em­ploy an­other coach in the new year, un­less some­thing dra­matic hap­pens,” said Khoza, adding that even be­fore he started search­ing for some­one or ad­ver­tised the post, he had al­ready re­ceived four CVs from “high pro­file” coaches abroad.

How­ever, he re­fused to di­vulge their names or na­tion­al­i­ties.

Khoza would also not say what kind of coach he was look­ing for. “It is dif­fi­cult [to spec­ify]. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, I have found preach­ers mas­querad­ing as coaches. This type tends to make a lot of noise in front of the play­ers and even the me­dia. But these so-called coaches are very shal­low when it comes to be­ing prac­ti­cal and ap­ply­ing what they preach.”

The Iron Duke added that some coaches failed to un­der­stand how to reach play­ers, given that cer­tain play­ers grasped some­thing bet­ter if they heard it, whereas oth­ers were more re­spon­sive to what they saw.

“Just like a bril­liant teacher, some coaches who are ge­niuses tend to speak over the play­ers’ heads. They fail to grasp that play­ers are at dif­fer­ent lev­els, and each needs spe­cial at­ten­tion to per­form op­ti­mally.”

Khoza said no player joined a club as a self-con­tained pack­age. “Even Lionel Messi and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo are not com­plete prod­ucts. They still need strict coaches’ in­struc­tions and to ad­here to the game plan.”

Khoza, who also chairs the PSL, went on to say: “I am aware of the crit­i­cism lev­elled against us re­gard­ing the rate at which we part with coaches. But close scru­tiny will re­veal that there is noth­ing wrong with our struc­tures and the way we do things.

“Be­tween 2010 and now, we have won two back-to­back tre­bles with dif­fer­ent coaches, and reached two Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball fi­nals with dif­fer­ent coaches. That does not in­di­cate there is some­thing wrong with us.”

As a part­ing shot, Khoza said he would not talk badly of any coach who had been with Pi­rates. “That would be un­eth­i­cal. Peo­ple must do their home­work be­fore they find fault with us.”

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

DETER­MINED Irvin Khoza wants an­swers

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