Two heads bet­ter than one?

Soccer Laduma - - Front Page -

When Free State Stars parted ways with Luc Ey­mael 14 games into the cur­rent sea­son, in­stead of travers­ing the length of the globe in search of a suit­able re­place­ment as is so of­ten the case, the club de­cided to look in-house and ap­pointed David Vi­lakazi and Se­laotse ‘Sly’ Mos­ala as care­taker co-coaches. These two bleed red and white, such is their love for and affin­ity to the club where they have served as as­sis­tants be­fore. The Ea Lla Koto ser­vants have a huge task on their hands, though, if they con­tinue into next year, and in this joint-in­ter­view with Soc­cer Lad­uma’s Beaver Nazo, Vi­lakazi and Mos­ala say they are up to the task.

Beaver Nazo: Gentle­men, congratulations on get­ting the Free State Stars co-coach­ing job, although on a care­taker ba­sis.

David Vi­lakazi: Thank you very much, Beaver. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it, my brother. Se­laotse ‘Sly’ Mos­ala: Thanks a lot, my man. We are try­ing to do our best for the club.

BN: So how has it been like?

DV: We have been do­ing this for some time now and we were in charge even when coach Luc Ey­mael was still here. He used to let us take charge, giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity to work. The play­ers know that too. The only thing that we all need to do now is to get the play­ers to re­spond to the tac­tics and all the work that we are do­ing ev­ery day at train­ing. The coach is gone and we have to change gears and work even harder, or else the re­sults will be the same. At the end of the day, coaches don’t play, but the play­ers do. They have to dou­ble their ef­fort and if they were dou­bling them then they have to triple them to get the desired re­sults.

SM: You just have to do what is re­quired of you, my man. You have to try and pre­pare the team to get re­sults. This is not new to both of us. We’ve worked with dif­fer­ent coaches at dif­fer­ent clubs and it’s all the same – no coach ever pre­pares the team to lose a game. We all pre­pare to win the games.

BN: Your first as­sign­ment was a CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup pre­lim­i­nary round tie against Rwanda’s Na­mukura Vic­tory Sports.

DV: I thought we were go­ing to win it, but we failed to cap­i­tal­ize on the nu­mer­ous chances we cre­ated. That is what has been hurt­ing us all this time.

SM: It was again the fin­ish­ing, or lack thereof. We just have to keep on work­ing on that. The only pos­i­tive is that we didn’t con­cede. A clean sheet is al­ways im­por­tant. We need to keep the bal­ance. Those are things we have been work­ing on and we are im­prov­ing.

BN: David, you were pro­moted to as­sis­tant coach (to then head coach Ser­ame Let­soaka) in April 2017, swap­ping po­si­tions with Themba Sit­hole, who took your place as head of de­vel­op­ment…

DV: Yes, it was in the last four matches and we were fight­ing rel­ega- tion. I came to as­sist Ser­ame. I think we did well be­cause we saved the team. I have en­joyed ev­ery minute of it.

BN: You played your last game for 2018 last week against Or­lando Pi­rates. This begs the ques­tion, how long are you guys go­ing to be care­taker coaches?

DV: Un­til the man­age­ment find a coach. I think that will hap­pen in January be­cause, like you say, we’ve had our last game for De­cem­ber and we are on a break. But if they get the coach to­day, then he will take over.

SM: They will tell us later. We have to get points to move up the ta­ble. We need to close the gap. It’s game on. The fight is on! We see AmaZulu are climb­ing up and we have to fol­low suit or else we will find our­selves in the dan­ger zone.

BN: If you are of­fered the Free State Stars head coach­ing job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, would you take it?

DV: It is ev­ery coach’s as­pi­ra­tion to take charge of a team. If you are an as­sis­tant, it also means that you need to be am­bi­tious to suc­ceed and if it comes to it that you get the op­por­tu­nity, then take it. For­tu­nately for me, ex­pe­ri­ence is not a prob­lem be­cause I have been an as­sis­tant in the Absa Premier­ship for more than 10 years with clubs like Mar­itzburg United, Plat­inum Stars and Free State Stars and I have also worked in the NFD for 10 years with teams like Bloem­fontein Young Tigers, Batau and African War­riors. So why not take it if it comes?

SM: The time will come for me. Now I be­lieve is not the time for me to take charge of the team. Look, there’s no rush from my side. These things hap­pen with time and when they hap­pen, they do so au­to­mat­i­cally. The club must bring some­one to help now and im­prove the sit­u­a­tion and we will help as­sist who­ever comes. When the time is right, it will hap­pen, but I can never tell when ex­actly that time will be. But I do know that that time will come where I will feel 100 per­cent ready to take over the coach­ing reigns.

BN: Do you not feel 100 per­cent ready now, coach?

SM: No, not to say that… I can do the job. I mean, I have been work­ing in the Absa Premier­ship for a long time. I have coached the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge. I’ve been around, man. I have coached am­a­teur teams as well. I have a pro­fes­sional li­cence, SAFA Level 3.

BN: What is the word from man­age­ment af­ter the team’s last game of the year?

DV: There hasn’t been any word other than look­ing for a coach to take over. You know the process of look­ing for a coach takes time. As soon as that per­son has been iden­ti­fied, then he will take over.

BN: Who are the can­di­dates they are look­ing at?

DV: I would be ly­ing if I said we know, my brother. We were promised that we will be told once they de­cide on who will be join­ing the team.

BN: Do you pre­fer the coach to be a lo­cal or a for­eign coach?

DV: I don’t have a prob­lem with the ori­gin or skin colour of the per­son, as long as it’s go­ing to be some­one who is ca­pa­ble of sav­ing Free State Stars. I will give who­ever takes over my un­di­vided sup­port.

SM: It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter where the coach comes from, as long as it is a coach that has got the ca­pac­ity to take the club to a re­spectable po­si­tion. I will sup­port who­ever gets the job be­cause I trust the club’s man­age­ment. They won’t bring just any­one, but some­one with cre­den­tials to take Stars back to the Top Eight.

BN: Siya crew sources say Ser­bian coach Nikola Kava­zovi has agreed to a two-and-a-half-year deal with Ea Lla Koto.

DV: The man­age­ment hasn’t said anything about him to us, but it would be great to get an experienced coach like him be­cause even though I don’t know him per­son­ally, from what I’ve read, he is a good coach and ex­actly what the team needs. He will have my full and un­di­vided sup­port.

SM: If that’s the case, then it’s good for the club, but like I said, we are yet to be told of such news; we only read about it. Surely we will be told when ev­ery­thing is fi­nalised. I am per­son­ally ready to wel­come him with open arms. He is a very good coach with loads of ex­pe­ri­ence.

BN: The core of last sea­son’s team is still there. Why is it that the team has strug­gled this cam­paign?

DV: From the out­side it might look like we have the core of last sea­son, but in fact, we have about eight new play­ers. And our top goalscorer in this league is on only six goals and, by the looks of it, this sea­son’s top goalscorer might not even reach 10 goals. But we are the high­est-con­ced­ing team, hav­ing al­ready con­ceded 21, while we have only scored 12 goals. Some­times when you have new play­ers, they take time to gel. We need to work more on our de­fen­sive or­gan­i­sa­tion. I mean, we have only won three from 15 league games so far and that just tells the story. We have to work hard on not con­ced­ing

BN: Luc Ey­mael won the team their first cup in 24 years last sea­son. Was his de­par­ture based purely on re­sults?

DV: It was re­sults, man un­for­tu­nately, un­less there is some­thing that I don’t know. We won three games, drew four and lost seven out of 14. There are teams who still have two games to play in the first round while we have fin­ished play­ing. Now if it hap­pens that all these teams win their games in hand, that will take us au­to­mat­i­cally to po­si­tion 16 and that is a dan­ger that the man­age­ment saw. That is why they de­cided that change is needed and to maybe bring some­one new to change the for­tunes of the club.

SM: I’m sure you fol­low the team and you’ve seen how the re­sults have not been com­ing. It was un­for­tu­nate that he had to de­part – he is a very good and a warm-hearted coach. I wish him ev­ery­thing of the best.

BN: What was it like work­ing with him?

DV: One of the best I have worked with. He doesn’t ever leave you hang­ing as his as­sis­tant. He lets you work and be in­volved.

SM: He was a unique coach who would let me and Vila (David Vi­lakazi) take charge of the team.

BN: You lost your last game of 2018 to Or­lando Pi­rates 3-1…

DV: I think we had enough clear-cut scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Our de­fend­ers also didn’t do as well as we ex­pected them to do. We were dom­i­nant in the second half. We scored early in the second half, but (it was the) same story of pre­vi­ous games – missed chances. We had a lion’s share of ball pos­ses­sion but failed to score. We will have to do it our­selves, not rely on other teams. We also have to stop con­ced­ing goals like we have been do­ing. We also need play­ers who will score reg­u­larly.

SM: I think we were a bit un­lucky. We also con­ceded two early silly goals. We didn’t deal with the free kick cor­rectly. We showed play­ers the videos and worked on that at train­ing. For the second goal, we lost the ball in a cru­cial area while we were out of shape and Pi­rates are very good on counter-at­tack. We should have scored two or three of our chances as well. I think we should have wrapped up the game in the first half. In say­ing that, I think we had bet­ter chances than them. The team showed cre­ativ­ity though and the ea­ger­ness was there, which is a good thing. But the red card to Sibu­siso Masina also hurt us. He knows that he wasn’t sup­posed to do what he did, but foot­ball has those mo­ments of mad­ness. We for­give him and move on – that’s foot­ball.

BN: If you’re still in charge by the time the January trans­fer win­dow opens, which ar­eas would you like to bol­ster in the team?

DV: Like I said, our main prob­lem is not con­vert­ing the chances that we are cre­at­ing, so we will need a striker or strik­ers. I mean, even in our last game against Pi­rates, we missed a lot of chances, so we def­i­nitely need a striker to bury those chances.

SM: The depart­ment that re­ally needs re­in­force­ment is the strik­ing depart­ment. Look at our strik­ers… they are sit­ting on one goal. You can­not have strik­ers sit­ting on one goal af­ter 15 games. We need to re­in­force the strik­ing depart­ment.

BN: Be­fore we let you go, any fes­tive sea­son mes­sage for the Soc­cer Lad­uma read­ers?

DV: This is the most pre­cious time of the year for ev­ery­one in Mzansi. I wish each and ev­ery one of the Soc­cer Lad­uma read­ers and people of our coun­try a merry Christ­mas and a pros­per­ous New Year in 2019!

SM: To those who will be trav­el­ling across the coun­try, please be safe and don’t drink and drive. Merry Christ­mas and a happy New Year!

BN: David and Sly, let’s leave it there for now. We wish you the best in your quest to sal­vage Ea Lla Koto’s pride. DV: Thanks. SM: Thank you and God bless you. ❐

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