Costly for Baroka

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO

KGOLOKO THOBE­JANE was at it again. This time though it wasn’t with the same bravado that en­deared him to the lo­cal soc­cer pub­lic at the be­gin­ning of last sea­son. But he said it al­right! “We want to win ev­ery­thing we play for. That’s why we play.”

Hav­ing just led his club to re­tain­ing their Absa Pre­mier­ship sta­tus via the play-off route, the coach of Baroka FC was back to his elo­quent self.

His voice hoarse from an af­ter­noon of shout­ing in­struc­tions and later singing in cel­e­bra­tion, Thobe­jane spoke in a whis­per as he an­tic­i­pated yet another sea­son in the elite league.

A 1-1 draw with Black Leop­ards was enough to see his side win the three-team (Stel­len­bosch FC was the other) pro­mo­tional play-offs by eight points af­ter they fin­ished sec­ond last in their maiden Pre­mier­ship sea­son.

“This one was not our sea­son. We just couldn’t score,” he said.

Logic would dic­tate then that, ahead of the next cam­paign, Thobe­jane would im­press on his bosses to al­low him to sharpen his strike­force with new ad­di­tions of renowned fin­ish­ers.

In­cred­i­bly, he said there’s no need to change any­thing.

“We will stay as Baroka. We will play the kind of foot­ball we’ve al­ways played.”

And what about adding new play­ers, coach?

“I am just a coach. It is up to the man­age­ment to de­cide if we want new play­ers. As for me, I be­lieve in get­ting 11 play­ers on to the field. It does not mat­ter which they are, as long as I can have 11 play­ers I will get them to play.”

It was per­haps his naivety, or is it sim­plic­ity, that saw him come up short in the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the Pre­mier­ship – Thobe­jane ac­tu­ally be­ing put out to pas­ture by club­boss Khur­ishi Mpha­helele mid­way through the sea­son as the club strug­gled to cope.

He had ap­proached the Pre­mier­ship al­most as a Sun­day morn­ing park kick-about, of­ten seem­ing to send his play­ers on to the field with what ap­peared to be a sim­ple in­struc­tion to “go at them, boys”.

With­out a clear plan as to what they must do once they have their op­po­si­tion pinned down, Baroka of­ten re­sem­bled a bird with­out a song – their at­tack­ing foot­ball fail­ing to yield goals.

It proved costly against or­gan­ised teams and many a matches that could have seen Baroka bag three points ended in de­feat.

They awoke some­what late in the sea­son to avoid au­to­matic rel­e­ga­tion and then went on to keep their Pre­mier­ship sta­tus with suc­cess in the play-off – a Mduduzi Mdat­sane goal on Satur­day enough to see them keep Leop­ards – for whom cap­tain Siphelele Nt­shangase equalised from the penalty spot – at bay.

Whether they have picked up any lessons that will stand them in good stead for their sec­ond cam­paign re­mains to be seen. Thobe­jane claims they have. “We learn from ev­ery match we play” he said, with­out shed­ding light on the lessons.

Just as he did last sea­son, he does, how­ever, be­lieve that Baroka will ‘win ev­ery­thing’ on of­fer in the PSL.

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