SOUTH Africa might now have the dubious distinction of a professional soccer outfit that has fired four coaches in two months.
National First Division side Black Leopards dismissed coach number four - Romanian-born Mario Marinica - on Monday.
Marinica had been with Leopards for less than a month and had not sat on the bench for an official game. Though Marinica has cited family problems as the cause of his sudden departure after he joined the Thohoyandou-based club in June on a two-season contract, those familiar with trigger-happy Leopards owner David Thidiela insist the Romanian was pushed.
In fact, Leopards just re-emphasised their position as a team that can't keep a coach. They could not keep Innocent "Ayoba-yo" Mayoyo, who left this month after having moved to Venda last month.
But Mayoyo's manager, Mike Mokwetli, said he was still attending to family issues that prevented him from participating in the daily activities of the club.
Serbian coach Vladislav Heric was recruited by Leopards late last season but he could not be retained when his contract expired in June.
This despite the fact that Heric managed to save Leopards from relegation.
He endeared himself to many supporters, who were convinced that Thidiela would extend the coach's stay in the Far North, but that was not to be.
Joel Masutha, who did wonders with Heric, also left the team in the same fashion with the respected Serbian coach.
Thidiela first confirmed his impatience with keeping a coach for a long time when he fired Jean-Yves Kerjean after only one official match a few seasons ago.
He fired the Frenchman, who had only a few weeks at the club, after losing 0-1 to Orlando Pirates.
While veteran coach Ted Dumitru spoke highly of Marinica, his countryman, Leopards' team manager Sam Khaphathe said they would not miss Marinica. "He was just another coach who we hoped would assist the club but his approach to the game was not special.
"He was also ordinary at training," Khaphathe said yesterday.
Said Dumitru: "Mario is a very tactical coach and I'm convinced that he would have turned the team around. He has very strong scientific aspects of hard performance in football. He told me about the frustration he has been encountering at Leopards, where he said certain things were done in a very difficult way for him to stay with the club."
Khaphathe remains positive their they will get their new man before the season kicks off next month.