Kick Off

Secret Footballer


This month’s Secret Footballer says the Chippa United players were shocked when Luc Eymael left the club after only one day.


Chippa Unitednite­d shocked South African football fans when they sacked coach Dan ‘Dans’ Malesela after his fourth stint at the club. To make matters worse, his successor Luc Eymael only lasted one day before he was shown the door following a letter of complaint from the EFF Eastern Cape, who condemned his appointmen­t. Our Secret Footballer, a Chippa United player, says the players were surprised by Eymael’s departure.

After coach Dan Malesela left, Luc Eymael arrived and was announced as the Chippa United technical director. He took pictures around the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and all the players were excited – we were just buzzing that day.

He has achieved a lot as a coach in Africa and also won the Nedbank Cup with Free State Stars. We were happy to come to training that day – the chairman [Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi] was also there. We trained and had just one session with him.

I can tell you now, Luc knows his stuff. We could see that from how he organised his training sessions and was communicat­ing with the players – we could see this guy knows what he is doing.

But the next day we were informed that he is no longer part of the technical team and we were all shocked. The club didn’t give any reasons and the players were saying things about EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] and things like that.

We felt bad, especially at a club that gets coaches fired all the time – imagine we only had a coach for one day.

But to be honest with you, as much as excitement was there when Luc was appointed – we didn’t spend a lot of time with him. It was just one day, and we didn’t go into the next match against Mamelodi Sundowns thinking that the debacle around his departure was going to affect us.

We had a good week with coach Siya [Gwambi] to prepare for the match against Sundowns and that was enough because he has been with us for a long time and knows the players very well. Yes, Luc’s departure is disappoint­ing, but it’s already forgotten now, we need to move on.

I know people always talk about how bad it looks with Chippa United firing coaches all the time, we have to accept what the management does. Yes, it has a psychologi­cal impact on the players, but we can’t go and tell the management this is the type of a coach we want.

If we do that and results don’t come, then everyone is going to say it’s the players that are making all these choices.

As players we just have to accept whoever is appointed, that is who we have to work with. I know going through three or four coaches in one season is something we have never experience­d; yes, it is abnormal but we just have to accept it and move on.

Former coach Dan Malesela is the longest serving coach this club has ever had, maybe that is why the club always gravitates towards him and when results are not forthcomin­g, they have to pull the plug.

Dan is the only coach that took this club to the MTN8 and every time he gets re-appointed, the club thinks that he can achieve the same results he did in the past.

Fighting relegation

We can survive relegation because only one team goes down and the other goes through the Relegation/Promotion Play Offs. In the past couple of years, the PSL club that goes to the Play Offs has always been too strong for National First Division clubs.

Once you get to the Play Offs – which is something we don’t want to think about because there are still lots of matches remaining – we can survive. Looking at the remaining matches, I think we are going to get out of this situation.

Playing against a team like Mamelodi Sundowns and other clubs always seem to be different for us. The mentality of our players when we are playing against the socalled smaller clubs is different.

They put themselves first, it’s all about how they perform ahead of the entire team. But when it’s a big club then everyone is prepared to do what needs to be done to get points. Against bigger clubs, players sacrifice themselves for the good cause of the team. When we play against smaller clubs, they want to shine and do their own things. That is the mentality we have, and to be honest, it’s all players.

We have a lot of experience players in the team but part of the problem is that they were not allowed to be themselves under coach Dan. Coach Dan is one of those coaches where it’s rather his way or the highway. He is not open to other ideas. He is that type of a coach, he knows everything, and players went into their shells.

He is not like Ernst Middendorp – people look at someone like Middendorp as stern, but he didn’t pretend like he knew everything. He was open and players could run ideas past him and that makes you comfortabl­e.

With coach Siya [Gwambi] now, players are open. Even though he is the coach and makes final decisions at the end of the day.

The club must give coach Siya a chance to stay until the end of the season because it doesn’t make sense to bring in another new coach with so few matches left. Coach Siya knows the culture of the team, has been here for a while and worked in the youth developmen­t, so knows the players.

If Siya saves the team from relegation, then maybe he can go beyond that.

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