Le­godi is up­beat, but tough

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Newly ap­pointed Orlando Pi­rates as­sis­tant coach Harold “Jazzy Queen” Le­godi has warned his pro­tégés not to ex­pect any favours from him.

In join­ing Pi­rates, Le­godi re­unites with four for­mer play­ers from his own Africa Sport Youth De­vel­op­ment Acad­emy.

Hav­ing al­ready worked with Oupa Many­isa, Mpho Makola, Pa­trick Phung­wayo and Nt­sikelelo Nyauza, many ex­pect them to walk straight into the team. But that won’t be the case, ac­cord­ing to Le­godi.

He prom­ises that only de­serv­ing play­ers will get the nod, and has al­ready warned all play­ers to pull up their socks and prove them­selves.

“It’s all about com­pe­ti­tion in the team. For­tu­nately, I know 95% of the play­ers here, and there won’t be any favours for any­one. I have worked in the na­tional team be­fore, and I know all about team se­lec­tion, es­pe­cially when you are sur­rounded by a group of good play­ers,” he said.

“It will be the same here at Pi­rates, as only de­serv­ing play­ers will play, ir­re­spec­tive of where they come from.”

Le­godi said, how­ever, that it could be an ad­van­tage that some of the play­ers had come from his hands.

“They all know I’m a fair per­son and also de­mand­ing. I just hope ev­ery­one will come to the party for the sake of the team. It is not about me, but the club.”

While he prefers to be in the back­ground help­ing new coach Kjell Jonevret, Le­godi be­lieves he can make a dif­fer­ence.

He has, how­ever, pleaded with sup­port­ers to give the Swede a fair chance to suc­ceed.

He noted that he was im­pressed with Jonevret’s knowl­edge of the game, and he had no doubt Jonevret was the right man for the job.

“I don’t want the lime­light – I’m here to help. I know that my role is to sup­port him [Jonevret] and make sure he ap­plies him­self.

“I’m not an ex­pert, but I have an idea and a lit­tle knowl­edge of the game, and hope­fully it will re­flect pos­i­tively. I don’t know what the is­sues here are, but I hope we will get to the bot­tom of ev­ery­thing and turn the team’s for­tunes around,” he said.

Le­godi said Pi­rates had good play­ers and did not de­serve to be strug­gling at the lower half of the log.

“I be­lieve this is just a slump, which ev­ery team goes through once in a while. There are some qual­ity play­ers and I’m sure we will get it right soon.”

When re­veal­ing the ap­point­ment of the 54-year-old for­mer Mamelodi Sun­downs as­sis­tant coach, Pi­rates chair Irvin Khoza drew at­ten­tion to Le­godi’s mo­ti­va­tional skills and bold­ness.

“We all know that soc­cer play­ers are not ma­chines – they are hu­man be­ings who re­quire nur­tur­ing and an ear, es­pe­cially when things go off the rails,” Khoza said.

“Op­ti­mal func­tion­ing of a team re­quires tech­ni­cal fit­ness and prow­ess, but it also re­quires that we get en­er­gies in the team to work in con­sent. And that re­quires a steady hand – some­one who has been in the play­ers’ po­si­tion; some­one with trust and re­spect; some­one with a word of en­cour­age­ment.”

Le­godi was al­most com­pletely the em­bod­i­ment of the char­ac­ter­is­tics that he had men­tioned, said Khoza on Mon­day.

PHOTO: DUDU MATH­E­BULA

NO FAVOURS Orlando Pi­rates' new as­sis­tant coach Harold Le­godi says Kjell Jonevret has im­pressed him

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