Celtic learn­ing fast from a Ser­bian PhD of foot­ball

Saturday Star - - SOCCER - NJABULO NGIDI

THE thin CV that Ve­selin Jelu­sic, ar­rived in the coun­try with is be­ing nour­ished bit-by-bit as he re­builds Bloem­fontein Celtic, dust­ing them up from the sorry state they were in last sea­son to making them shine.

What the Serb lacked in achieve­ments as a coach, he makes up with a strong back­ground in ed­u­ca­tion and abil­ity to re­fine tal­ent as was ev­i­dent in his time in Botswana. Jelu­sic won his first ac­co­lade in South Africa on Thurs­day as he was named Coach of the Month for Oc­to­ber. He is two matches away from get­ting a proper ac­co­lade. Celtic visit Polok­wane City at the Old Peter Mok­aba Stadium on Sun­day next week with a place in the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal up for grabs.

“Prior to be­ing a foot­ball coach, I ob­tained a Masters de­gree and PhD (in Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion with a fo­cus on foot­ball from the Univer­sity Of Bel­grade),” Jelu­sic said.

“I worked at the fac­ulty of sport with foot­ball as my sub­ject for 14 years. Later on, since 1999 up to now, I am a part-time pro­fes­sor for sport coaches in the depart­ment. The sub­jects I deal with are tech­ni­cal, tac­ti­cal and method­ol­ogy of foot­ball.

“It is about im­prov­ing my­self aca­dem­i­cally. My pro­fes­sional life has been about im­prov­ing the the­o­retic and prac­ti­cal as­pects of foot­ball. I hone the the­o­ret­i­cal side in fac­ul­ties and col­leges that I have been to. The prac­ti­cal as­pect is im­proved by my life as a coach. Both sides give me a lot of plea­sure.”

In a short space of time Jelu­sic has given Si­welele a num­ber of plea­sur­able mo­ments, es­pe­cially in the Telkom Knock­out. Celtic bounced back from 2-0 down to beat Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal­ists Su­perS­port United on penal­ties in the last 16. They also came from a goal down to knock out Plat­inum Stars in Pho­keng to set up a meet­ing with Rise and Shine in the last four.

Celtic have im­proved from the side that would have been rel­e­gated last sea­son had Pa­trick Tignyemb not kept 13 cleans sheets, the most by any goal­keeper. His clean sheets made up for his team­mates’ mis­fir­ing ways as Celtic scored a pal­try 16 goals – the least by any team.

“I had to im­prove the play­ers psy­cho­log­i­cally first,” Jelu­sic said. “It started in the friendly games we played to pre­pare for the sea­son. The play­ers gained con­fi­dence with each win which led to the good start that we have had. As our con­fi­dence rose, the bet­ter we played. I think we are still go­ing to reach a higher level be­cause the more pos­i­tive re­sults we get, the more con­fi­dence they will have.

“I am happy that our play­ers have the con­fi­dence to fight un­til the end. It comes from train­ing and preparation. They feel that they are ready in all as­pects to be a force in the coun­try.”

Celtic sit in fourth place af­ter nine matches, two points be­hind log lead­ers Baroka FC but have a game in hand. Af­ter 11 games in all com­pe­ti­tions, Phunya Sele Sele are just three goals away from match­ing the 16 goals they scored in the league last sea­son which high­lights how much they’ve turned things around.

“I didn’t have any pres­sure from man­age­ment when I started this job,” Jelu­sic said.

“Our goal was just to be am­bi­tious and im­prove from last sea­son by go­ing as far as pos­si­ble. We will con­tinue with this ap­proach.

“So we are on the right path. I am ex­cited that we are one match away from the fi­nal. But be­fore we can start think­ing about the fi­nal, we have a dif­fi­cult match against Polok­wane.”

Percy Tau, cen­tre, with his Bafana team­mates dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at Peter Mok­aba Stadium in Polok­wane this week.

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