Sat Oct 22 01:47:48 SAST 2016

Sibiya's winning formula

By Linda Moreotsene | Jul 27, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ONE of the pivotal things that defines SuperSport United chairperson Khulu Sibiya's success is the setting of boundaries.

ONE of the pivotal things that defines SuperSport United chairperson Khulu Sibiya's success is the setting of boundaries.

Having played football professionally as a young man, it is natural for one to assume that Sibiya would feel entitled to dispense advice freely.

Others in Sibiya's position have found meddling in the coach's business an irresistible temptation.

But according to those close to Sibiya, this is not something that afflicts him.

In fact, United are successful due to defined role designation and clear accountability.

"The only time I make a speech is at the year-end function ," Sibiya chuckles.

"If you employ somebody to do a job, let them do it.

"We have been lucky to see most of the goals we set for ourselves being attained sooner than we anticipated. Though at this club we plan together and operate in a family-like atmosphere, we are a business and everybody knows where they fit in."

United also have the backing of broadcast giants M-Net and therefore the business capacity to scale heights. While Sibiya concedes this point, the second most important attribute in the club is a refusal to cater to the superstar mentality so prevalent in today's game.

The reasoning is that the minute one player is touted to be "the heart and soul" of a party, the whole balance is disrupted. And the approach seems to be working for them.

Sibiya explains: "We let people go when necessary - for us the team is the superstar. We had no qualms letting Teko Modise go when we felt he was getting bigger than the club, but we had Elias Pelembe ready to replace him.

"The same thing with Katlego Mashego - we moved swiftly to bring in Lerato Chabangu."

For the new season, the team has been bolstered by the introduction of Thabo Mongalo, Thabo Moleko, Emile Baron, Jabu Maluleke, Siyabonga Nkosi and Brian Umony.

United have listed as part of their objectives that they intend to qualify for the CAF Champions League as often as possible and therefore use the team as a marketing tool for the SuperSport television channel that broadcasts sport into Africa.

They bombed out of last season's edition but Sibiya is adamant the team will make a much better impression this time.

"I feel we have a great opportunity to do well in Africa next season. Our league ends in February 2010, and in addition to capturing the league title for the third time, it is one of our crucial objectives to do better than we have done on the continent," he said.

As for the thriving youth structure they have built over the years, which has produced one of the league's best young players, Masibusane Zongo, Sibiya feels it is a testament to their determination not to merely pay lip service to development.

On a negative note United and neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns have had to contend with being called hypocrites for calling themselves Tshwane teams while they had no players from that city in their ranks.

Some residents of Atteridgeville - where these two play their home matches - have even pledged to withhold their support until this changes.

"It's about time the people started identifying the talent and telling us about it. Besides, football is a global sport, and ideally we would love to have players from Atteridgeville, but we do have local talent within our ranks - Coltrane Munyai in our marketing department is from that community," Sibiya said.

But in addition to silverware, the measure of any club's greatness is in its support base, an area in which United still have a lot to do.

"We would like to get our average match attendance up to around 20 000 supporters, and it is possible. People used to talk about the big three of local football . In the next five years we plan to have them speaking of the big four, with us included," he said.

Football, as many have pointed out before, is a game of opinions. Everybody involved has one. There is another thing that those who follow the game agree on: don't change a winning team (formula).

So far this philosophy seems to have worked wonders for Sibiya and his club. The rest of the field contesting the 2009-2010 PSL season cannot say they were not warned.


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