Foreigners make mark as coaches

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

Have foreign coaches made a meaningful contribution to South African soccer?

Or are they coming down south because they are more likely to be exposed to international soccer?

The rationale is that most foreign coaches have exposure to international trends, and have their finger on the pulse of where the modern game is headed.

They also owe their success to demanding discipline from players - both on and off the field.

They often know how to establish a rapport with their players - making sure the players show respect and are loyal to them as well as to the game.

Most foreign coaches have not failed their teams, but have improved standards tremendously.

They don't rest on their laurels, they have the ability to read the game during the match and introduce appropriate changes.

In the 2008/2009 season, of the 16 Absa Premiership clubs, eight are coached by foreigners.

Moroka Swallows' Brazilian coach Julio Cesar Leal is gradually transforming The Birds into a force to be reckoned with in the league.

This was evident when they beat Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN 8 second leg semifinal in Rustenburg recently.

It may be early days yet, but some coaches do add value to the game. A player like Ryan Botha, the former Under-23 striker, has improved greatly and may soon be in the national team.

Another coach is Kaizer Chiefs' Muhsin Ertugral, who transformed Ajax Cape Town into one of the giant killers in the 2006/2007 season.

He said that he believed in youth development. He fielded youngsters and his side reached the finals of the inaugural Telkom Knockout Challenge when they lost to Silver Stars.

Ertugral is also transforming Chiefs into an exciting side, and his belief in the youth is bearing fruit.

Argentinian coach Miguel Gamondi picked up the pieces at Platinum Stars when the club was dumped by Owen da Gama.

After finishing second on the league log in the 2006/2007 season, the Tycoons plummeted to 12th place the following season, before Gamondi's arrival.

He motivated the players to a 10th spot finish. They could have finished in a better position, but because they took part in the African Champions League, and later the Confederations Cup, it meant they had too many irons in the fire.

Stars are still the only SA team to have beaten Al Ahly when they upset the Egyptians 2-1 in Atteridgeville.

Although some soccer pundits are not aware that Orlando Pirates are making tremendous progress under coach Rudolf Krol, the Hollander is transforming Bucs into a real force.

There is a tremendous change in the team, with Lehlohonolo Seema and Benson Mhlongo being the pillars of strength for the team.

Though results have not come yet, Pirates, with their youthful side, threaten to be a real threat this season.

In the Friendly City, Bay United, who were promoted to the elite league this season, became the second side from that area, since Michau Warriors, to play in the big league.

Under the watchful eye of Vladislav Heric from Serbia, United have done pretty well to represent Port Elizabeth in the Premiership.

The side's coach has vowed that they will retain their elite league status and will soon be in the top eight in the next two seasons.

Santos head coach David Bright, from Botswana, is another foreigner who has made tremendous changes to the People's Team.

Although Santos comprise mainly youngsters, Bright has ensured that discipline is maintained in the team.

He joined the People's Team when the second round kicked off last season, when the Cape Town side were languishing at the bottom of the log.

Bright made it his duty to see to it that Santos finished third in the league, which was a great achievement.

That alone is evidence that the foreign coaches have brought some major changes to the domestic league.