boost for murape
Black Leopards' brand manager Tshifiwa Thidiela insisted yesterday that Sheppard Murape was still their head coach.
His insistence came after a flurry of rumours that the Zimbabwean mentor had parted company with the hobbling Venda club.
Murape missed Leopards' last two matches against Jomo Cosmos and Kaizer Chiefs. Paul Dolezar, a former coach of Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic, has joined Lidoda Duvha as technical adviser. He is said to be earmarked for the coaching job if Leopards return to the top flight.
David Thidiela's club narrowly escaped automatic relegation and will have to negotiate their way back to the Absa Premiership through the National First Division promotion-relegation playoffs.
Rumours abound that the underrated Murape was suspended for allegedly receiving money from a PSL team to throw Leopards' crucial matches in the run-in. It is further claimed that Murape fabricated the death of his sister two weeks ago, with no details of funeral arrangements emerging since.
Sowetan can confirm that Murape was in the grandstand during Leopards' match against Chiefs, barely two meters from Dolezar.
Speaking to Sowetan yesterday on his way to training, Murape said he was surprised by the alleged suspension.
"I was on two weeks' family bereavement leave [after the death] of my sister. The leave ended on Sunday, hence I am back at training.
"There is nothing wrong that I have done that warrants suspension.
"I will work hard with the players to ensure that we reclaim our Absa Premiership status," said Murape.
Thidiela distanced himself from the alleged suspension of Murape.
"Murape was on two weeks' bereavement leave that ended on Monday, we are still waiting for the funeral date so that we can support him.
"Murape is not on suspension, there is a good working relationship between us, we are confident that he will assist us during the playoffs," said Thediela.
He added: "Paul Dolezar has joined us as technical adviser to our technical team that is headed by Murape.
"We hope that his presence will strengthen our technical team that is expected to win the playoffs."
Dolezar's presence is viewed as one way of kicking out Murape, as it happened to other coaches in other teams in the past.
Boobie Solomons came to Leopards as technical adviser but ultimately became head coach.
The same route was travelled by Bibbey Mutombo at Orlando Pirates, with Gordon Igesund on his way at Thanda Royal Zulu.