Leopards coach Losciuto: 'No‚ I am not God. You have big coaches in South Africa – very good coaches'

Black Leopards’ self-effacing Belgian coach Jean Francois Losciuto might have guided his team from 13th place to the promotion playoffs‚ but he is “no God” among football coaches‚ he said this week.

Losciuto‚ still young for a coach at 44‚ found his way to Leopards via an introduction from former Polokwane City coach Luc Eymael having drifted through club jobs in Togo‚ Burkina Faso and Rwanda‚ and as assistant-coach to Sunday Oliseh with Nigeria.

From November‚ replacing Zimbabwean Jairos Tapera with Leopards near the relegation zone‚ Loscuito guided Lidoda Duvha to a second-placed finish in the National First Division‚ and shot at the Premier League with a place in the promotion/relegation playoffs.

Despite working that small miracle‚ Losciuto knows his place deep in the shadow cast by big-name coaches in South Africa – doyens such as Stuart Baxter‚ Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane.

“No‚ I am not God. You have big coaches in South Africa – very good coaches‚” the shy Belgian said in his broken English this week.

“My philosophy for me is the philosophy for my team for today. If tomorrow I have another team‚ and other players‚ my philosophy will change.

“What stays the same is I will put out offensive football with a big emphasis on organisation in defence.

“I will tell you‚ ‘When you have the ball‚ the opposition are not dangerous’. That’s my philosophy.”

Losciuto’s connection to Leopards came via his pal from Belgium‚ Eymael‚ the coach who has been a figure of a dispute between Polokwane and Bloemfontien Celtic.

“I called Luc Eymael‚ and asked him‚ ‘Please‚ you don’t know of an opportunity for me in South Africa?’‚” Losciuto said.

“Because I had resigned with Nigeria. I did not work for six months. And I love South Africa. I spent time here in a camp with Nigeria in 2015 before the (2016) Chan (African Nations Championship).

“He told me‚ ‘Look‚ you know‚ the PSL is not easy because it’s November. But it’s possible that Black Leopards in the NFD will change their coach. I will as for you from the chairman‚ Mr (David) Thidiela’.

“Luc and I were from the same city‚ Liege‚ where he lived I think 600 metres from my home.”

Leopards have been recurring fixtures in the playoffs since their last relegation in 2012-13‚ without gaining promotion.

Losciuto is frank on what can make the difference this time round in a six-game‚ round robin playoff this year including third-placed NFD team Stellenbosch FC and the yet to be decided 15-th-placed PSL team‚ which can be something of a lottery.

“I don’t know. Ask God. Only God knows. Me‚ I know I will work to put this team in the PSL‚” the coach said.

“But you know football is incredible – it’s not always the best team that wins all the matches. We will see.

“It’s possible it will be 0-0‚ and I need one point to go to the PSL‚ and the referee gives a penalty. That’s life.

“I know I will work very strongly with my players. We are working very hard to go to the PSL.”

Losciuto’s previous clubs in Africa have been ASFA Yennenga in Burkina Faso‚ Rayon Sports in Rwanda and Anges in Togo.

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport