Can Veselin put SA coaches into intensive care?
WILL the domination of South African-born coaches continue in the Telkom Knockout this year? Or will Bloemfontein Celtic’s Veselin Jelusic break their good run.
The Serbian who has taken the Premier Soccer League (PSL) by storm in his debut season leads his team against Bernard Molekwa’s Polokwane City in the semifinal of the country’s League Cup at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday.
City have been in good form in recent weeks and will be confident of putting homeground advantage to good use and book their maiden cup final spot where they will face either of Bidvest Wits or Kaizer Chiefs who meet on Saturday.
For the past five seasons, local coaches have been dominant in the TKO.
Clinton Larsen started the domination when he lead Celtic to glory back in 2012 with victory over Mamelodi Sundowns at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban thanks to a solitary strike from Joel Mogorosi.
Allan Freese followed the following year when his Platinum Stars side defeated Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the final at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Local indeed became lekker as another home-brewed coach in the form of Gordon Igesund triumphed in 2014, the multiple league-winning coach leading SuperSport to success over holders Stars.
The following year, 2015, saw Pitso Mosimane keeping the flag of local coaches flying high. Mosimane’s Mamelodi Sundowns thumped Steve Komphela’s Chiefs 3-1 in the final played in Durban.
Last season the title was won by PSL ‘rookies’ Cape Town Spurs who had Eric Tinkler dictating matters from the bench as they overcame Stuart Baxter’s SuperSport.
As the competition goes into its last stages, it is now three against one. Jelusic against Molekwa, Komphela and Gavin Hunt.. With none of these coaches having won the competitipon, it makes for a fascinating semifinal.
Hunt has won all the cups on domestic front except the TKO while Komphela is still searching for his maiden trophy as a coach.
Molekwa isin his debut season as coach and would love nothing more than to lead Polokwane to their first ever cup success
The last foreign coach to lift the TKO was Brazilian Julio Leal who won it with Orlando Pirates in 2011 as his side humbled Bidvest Wits 3-1 in Durban.
Should he win, Jelusic would be emulating his compatriot Vladimir Vermezovic who won the competition twice, 2009 and 2010, with Chiefs.
What chance Celtic’s Jelusic ending the local coaches’ monopolisation of the Telkom Knockout?
Being a match away from the final, he should believe he can. But first he must get past City in their own backyard.