Two heads better than one?
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. ❐