They look at us like crim­i­nals!

Soccer Laduma - - Siyag Bhoza -

Goalscor­ing is a se­ri­ous prob­lem that has been af­flict­ing South African foot­ball for a longer time than one can scream ‘ Ladu­u­u­u­uma!’ Sea­son af­ter sea­son, no san­goma has been able to cure this ill. That the joint Golden Boot win­ners for 2017/ 18 ( Percy Tau and Rod­ney Ra­m­a­galela) scored only 11 goals apiece and that, at the half­way mark of this cam­paign, the lead­ing goalscorer is on seven goals, tells the whole sorry story. More wor­ry­ingly, un­like dur­ing the days of the likes of Fani Ma­dida, Raphael Chukwu and Les­ley Many­athela, no one is rais­ing his hand on a con­sis­tent ba­sis in front of goal for the Big Three. Were the afore­men­tioned sharp­shoot­ers sim­ply a spe­cial breed or is there where cur­rent strik­ers are lack­ing? Pollen Nd­lanya, who played for both Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates, was fa­mous for his goalscor­ing ex­ploits and Soc­cer Lad­uma’s Beaver Nazo de­cided to tap into his wisdom and knowhow to bet­ter un­der­stand the cur­rent sta­tus quo. How­ever, judg­ing by the vol­canic plumes that came out of the mouth of the man many have long come to know as ‘ Tromp­ies’, he was in a mood of his own, cul­mi­nat­ing in this fas­ci­nat­ing in­ter­view. Fas­ten your seat­belt, dear reader, Pollen Nd­lanya is in the driv­ing seat!

Beaver Nazo: Tromp­ies, where are the goals? To­gether with the likes of Jerry Sikhosana, Daniel Mu­dau, Raphael Chukwu, Bunene Ngad­u­ane, Mark Wil­liams, the late Den­nis Lota and oth­ers, you kept South African foot­ball fans happy with the kinds of goals you scored, but now, we seem to be on a down­ward spiral when it comes to scor­ing.

Pollen Nd­lanya: You know, foot­ball is be­ing politi­cised in this coun­try now. Once you start politi­ciz­ing foot­ball, then we will have a prob­lem and things won’t go your way. I know that scor­ing goals has been a prob­lem, but what has been done about that?

BN: Or­lando Pi­rates took the bold step of hir­ing a fin­ish­ing coach (Stephen Adam) at the be­gin­ning of this sea­son. The move seems to be pay­ing div­i­dends, to a de­gree.

PN: Look, you can­not fool ev­ery­one. Money doesn’t buy suc­cess. It doesn’t mean be­cause you have money, you know every­thing. You can have all the money in the world, but to be suc­cess­ful, you need to work with peo­ple. Look at Pi­rates bring­ing in the fin­ish­ing coach from over­seas – it’s a good thing and I don’t have a prob­lem with that, but you can­not over­look the peo­ple who played for the club, the peo­ple who know the cul­ture of the club in­side out, peo­ple who have contributed to the suc­cess of the team. Peo­ple like Jerry Sikhosana. They should have started at home and looked at the likes of Jerry. These guys are sit­ting at home and have no jobs, but they had to go and get an un­known guy over­seas be­cause he is white. It doesn’t make sense. They are un­der­min­ing our own peo­ple lo­cally. That is why our foot­ball will never go any­where, be­cause there’s this men­tal­ity that a white per­son knows bet­ter.

BN: Hmmm…

PN: For ex­am­ple, if a guy from the town­ship is sell­ing Hugo Boss per­fume, peo­ple will say, “No, that is stolen or it’s fake”, but if a white guy stops the car and sells the same per­fume, peo­ple will buy it be­cause they look at his (skin) colour. We are un­der­min­ing our le­gends. I don’t have a prob­lem if they de­cide to hire some­one from over­seas, but don’t un­der­mine the in­tegrity of our own le­gends. That is why ngithi kuwe,

mn­gani wami (I’m say­ing to you, my friend), hav­ing money doesn’t make you a bet­ter per­son or some­one who knows every­thing. The so-called bosses are killing our foot­ball. You need to work col­lec­tively with peo­ple. Barcelona hired Pep Guardi­ola and he was suc­cess­ful. They knew that the guy knows the cul­ture of the club. They brought Louis En­rique af­ter him and he was also suc­cess­ful be­cause he is also a club leg­end, he knows the cul­ture and every­thing about the club. You don’t just bring peo­ple be­cause they are so-and-so’s nephew and they come from Europe, while you have some­one who can do the job here. That’s what is hap­pen­ing here. They are politi­ciz­ing foot­ball! BN: But some of the for­eign guys come highly qual­i­fied and rec­om­mended, un­like some of our le­gends who come across as want­ing to be handed things on a sil­ver plat­ter on the ba­sis of hav­ing played for a cer­tain club for a num­ber of years…

PN: It’s a good thing that they have qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but this is South African play­ers’ men­tal­i­ties that we are talk­ing about here. You can come from Europe and have all the qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but fail to de­liver, like it is the case with some coaches. You need to be street­wise and un­der­stand the cul­ture and the way the play­ers live in the town­ships to be able to suc­ceed in South Africa as a coach, whether you have or don’t have the qual­i­fi­ca­tions. The im­por­tant thing is to un­der­stand the men­tal­ity and back­ground of the play­ers. Look at how Steve Kom­phela did in his first sea­son at Chiefs when he was work­ing with Doc­tor Khu­malo – they went into two cup fi­nals, even though they un­for­tu­nately lost them. That was be­cause they knew the play­ers and cul­ture of the team.

BN: How have you equipped your­self post your play­ing days?

PN: I have a SAFA Level One cer­tifi­cate and, when I have time, I will go for more cour­ses. But can I tell you some­thing… I spoke to Neil Tovey, who was my cap­tain at Chiefs and now the Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor at SAFA, about get­ting me to help the na­tional team on an as­sis­tant ba­sis. Guess what he told me? “No, Pollen, you need a li­cence.” I told him I do have SAFA Level

One and then he changed (tack) and said I need Level Four. I said, “Ok, Neil.” The sad thing is that when we meet sup­port­ers, the first ques­tion they ask is, “Why don’t you go help at Chiefs or Bafana Bafana?” Lit­tle do they know how hard it is to be over­looked.

BN: Go on.

PN: Some­times the rea­son these coaches don’t want the le­gends as as­sis­tants is that they worry about the fact that most of us are pop­u­lar with these teams’ sup­port­ers, so they some­what feel threat­ened and then end up get­ting some­one they would con­trol. A lot of these as­sis­tants are yes-men be­cause they are pro­tect­ing their jobs. This thing is a prob­lem and I am not say­ing le­gends must not go and learn, but don’t close the door for them be­cause you’re in­se­cure! There are peo­ple like Jerry and Steve Lekoe­lea who are job­less and they played the game. They can help the young­sters.

BN: Is it re­ally about ‘for­eign v local’? For ex­am­ple, Benni McCarthy was a top-class fin­isher in his hey­day, but we’ve seen him pulling his hair out over the nu­mer­ous goalscor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that his strik­ers squan­der at times, even fa­mously say­ing one time that his grand­mother could do bet­ter. Yet he is a local!

PN: I’ve never had a prob­lem with for­eign coaches, but they have to de­liver. Benni has al­ready won a tro­phy, mean­ing that he has won the hearts of his play­ers. They all want to win for him and the club. It is never about where you come from, but what you do when given an op­por­tu­nity. I still be­lieve that our le­gends have to be given a chance. I was coached by the late Jeff But­ler, whose cre­den­tials as a coach peo­ple were ques­tion­ing, but he suc­ceeded. There are coaches, whose names I can­not men­tion, who have come here highly rec­om­mended with loads of qual­i­fi­ca­tions, yet they failed to de­liver. What are you go­ing to say about that? I say give our le­gends a chance!

BN: Sure.

PN: Let me tell you this… you know why our foot­ball is not go­ing for­ward? It’s be­cause of two things: pol­i­tics and re­cy­cling of coaches. For ex­am­ple, Black Leop­ards will fire a coach and then, three days later, that coach will be coach­ing Chippa United. Tell me, when are we go­ing to have new and fresh ideas in the league? Bring in the le­gends. Give them a chance so that we can have fresh ideas be­cause I can tell you now, this re­cy­cling is what makes our league to be at a stand­still point.

BN: Talk­ing about re­cy­cling, Chiefs have just brought back Ernst Mid­den­dorp…

PN: (Cuts in) Beaver, this is what I’m talk­ing about here! I don’t have a prob­lem with Mid­den­dorp, but when will oth­ers be given a chance? I am happy for Shaun Bartlett, but again, he has been a head coach be­fore, so why not give him the head-coach­ing job? He is a young coach with fresh ideas, ex­actly what our foot­ball needs right now. We have young coaches who have bright ideas, like Dan Male­sela, and there are those ex­pe­ri­enced coaches like Pitso Mosi­mane who are do­ing well. Use them. Give the Man­qoba Mngqithis a coach­ing job. Le­gends must come on board as as­sis­tants. Why must we go for over­seas coaches when we have these coaches? We al­ways do this re­cy­cling be­cause, for ex­am­ple, we say, “Oh, this is Steve Kom­phela, he coached Chiefs, so let’s get him”, in­stead of try­ing to get some­one new with fresh ideas. I be­lieve I can do the job as an as­sis­tant coach or as a for­wards coach be­cause I have enough ex­pe­ri­ence, but we are ig­nored. I am not say­ing Mid­den­dorp will not do the job – no, he might change the club’s for­tunes, but we need new ideas. BN: What are your views on the Soweto Derby these days? PN: We don’t re­ally care about the derby any­more. We have a league in Tem­bisa where we play ev­ery Sun­day and we’re still scor­ing goals there. We don’t even watch the derby some­times. Re­mem­ber scor­ing goals is an art. It’s a skill. There are a lot of us who scored goals for these teams, so why can’t they call me and say, “Hey, Pollen, we know you used to bang in the goals. Come help these young boys. Show them how it’s done.” But, no, we are not in the pic­ture! We made the PSL what it is to­day. In other coun­tries, like Eng­land, once you re­tire they give you a job, where they’ll start you in de­vel­op­ment. You don’t have to go and beg for a job. The club bosses that think they know foot­ball are the ones that kill our foot­ball. An ex­am­ple is that why can’t we, as le­gends, get VIP tick­ets to watch the derby? You watch the derby and you see beau­ti­ful girls busy on What­sApp sit­ting in the VIP area. They don’t even care what’s hap­pen­ing on the field. They are not watch­ing!

BN: You’re not the first to raise that point.

PN: The last time I went to watch the derby, I went with the late Shakes Kung­wane and Teenage Dladla. We were guests on in­vi­ta­tion. The se­cu­rity didn’t want to open for us. They stopped us and asked us, “Where are the tick­ets?” We told them that we were in­vited and so we didn’t have tick­ets, and they told us we couldn’t get in. The sup­port­ers came and told them, “Hey, these are le­gends that made the PSL, so open for them.” They opened for me and Shakes, but didn’t want to open for Teenage. We told them that if they wouldn’t al­low him in, then we wouldn’t go in ei­ther, and that’s when they opened for him. The ladies were pass­ing us, go­ing in and look­ing at us as if we were crim­i­nals. That is why we are bit­ter. But I re­ally do not care. The mes­sage that I have for them is that in life you can never fool any­one. Look at the benches of these clubs, see who is there and you ask your­self why are we not get­ting the chance so that we can fail if we fail?

BN: For the ben­e­fit of our read­ers who may not be in the know, what are you cur­rently do­ing and how do you get by?

PN: Well, I am do­ing well and I don’t have fi­nan­cial prob­lems. I have a com­pany that sup­plies hos­pi­tals with cleaning ma­te­rial and other stuff. I am also in­volved in schools pro­grammes where we iden­tify tal­ent at schools in Ekurhu­leni. I also have Pollen Nd­lanya Sports De­vel­op­ment, where I am de­vel­op­ing foot­ball in schools – not a lot of peo­ple know about this be­cause I am do­ing it be­hind the scenes. I will never be lost to the game.

BN: Look­ing at all you’ve spo­ken about and all you’ve contributed to local foot­ball, do you have any re­grets?

PN: I have played foot­ball at the high­est level. I played in Turkey, I played for the two big­gest clubs in South Africa, Chiefs and Pi­rates, and I have won tro­phies too. I won Foot­baller of the Sea­son and Top Goalscorer in 1998, and I also played for Bafana Bafana in the 1997 FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup. I do not have any re­grets, none what­so­ever.

BN: Tromp­ies, thank you for your time and we value the con­tri­bu­tion you’ve made to South African foot­ball.

PN: No prob­lem, my friend. Thanks to you too.

“Don’t close the door for them be­cause you’re in­se­cure!” “We don’t re­ally care about the derby any­more.”

To dis­cuss this in­ter­view with Beaver, tweet him on @BeaverNazo15

Face­book l Pollen Nd­lanya In­sta­gram l @nd­lanyapollen

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