As’phelelanga Go well, coach Sikhakhane
Theirs was an on-again, off-again relationship, but late coach Mboneni Roger Sikhakhane will be best remembered for his many spells at Chippa United, the club he guided to their first promotion to the elite league six years ago.
Yesterday, the local football fraternity woke up to the news that the young mentor had died just a month before his 43rd birthday.
At the time of his death, Sikhakhane was in charge of National First Division (NFD) side Royal Eagles, but the club had given him some time off due to illness.
Tributes started pouring in, with the Premier Soccer League declaring a moment of silence at this weekend’s Telkom Knockout quarterfinals and at NFD matches.
Sikhakhane, who was originally from KwaZuluNatal, spent the better part of his coaching career at the Chilli Boys, starting out as assistant coach in 2011.
He endeared himself to the Chippa United fans so much that they added his name to the club’s anthem As’phelelanga, a song that celebrated the team’s promotion back into the Absa Premiership in 2014.
“Roger was the pioneer of the Chippa way of playing that we see today,” said Chippa United former media officer Luthando “Trompies” Zibeko, who spent a long time with Sikhakhane at the club.
“It was his love for the club that kept bringing him back to Chippa. He always reminded us that he was a huge part of the club’s history.
“He hung out with his players, making him a unique players’ coach. He is the one who recommended me back at the club last season. Football has lost big time.”
Sikhakhane’s many stints at Chippa started when, as the club’s fifth coach during the 2011/12 NFD season, he took over with 11 matches remaining.
He guided Chippa to a second-place finish, which gave them a spot in the much sought-after promotional play-offs.
The club failed to hold on to their premiership status and, on their return in the 2012/13 campaign, Sikhakhane was back at the helm, but lasted for only five matches in charge.
After a season away, he made another return to the Chippa hot seat six matches into the 2014/15 season, but he was fired after 12 games.
The 2015/16 season was no different as he was sacked again after 11 matches into the campaign.
Sikhakhane, who looked up to local coaches such as Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela, proved his worth when he promoted Thanda Royal Zulu to the premiership two seasons ago.
Eagles, who were placed ninth on the NFD log prior to this weekend’s matches, were hoping Sikhakhane would also guide them to the Promised Land.
Rest in peace, coach.
STYLING Mboneni Sikhakhane always looked sleek on the touchline