Can Ve­selin put SA coaches into in­ten­sive care?

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - MINENHLE MKHIZE

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.

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