Alan Clark confident of saving premiership basement dwellers Black Leopards

Alan Clark, coach of Black Leopards.
Alan Clark, coach of Black Leopards.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Black Leopards coach Alan Clark says he would not have taken the job if he did not believe he could save the Limpopo team from relegation.

Leopards are in bottom place in the Absa Premiership with just six games to go in their second season back in the top-flight since promotion in 2018‚ as the league sits in limbo from the nationwide shutdown due to the coronavirus breakout in South Africa.

Clark took on a tough job when Cavin Johnson – the head coach he arrived at the club with‚ and who he had also assisted at Platinum Stars and AmaZulu – was suspended in January.

As a young coach‚ Clark also faces a familiar catch-22. He has been given a first head coaching opportunity‚ but at a team in a seemingly impossible position.

“To be honest with you I don’t think I jumped into this position with my eyes closed‚” Clark said.

“I’m also somebody who has been around for a while. I haven’t maybe made a lot of noise about things. I don’t advertise myself on social media every two seconds every time I take a drink of water.

“But what’s important is that I’ve been around and I’ve been experienced. I’ve been involved with AmaZulu with the trouble that they had in the first and second seasons.

“I was around at Platinum Stars. When we got there they were 14th and they ended in the top eight. The second season they were second.

“And I’ve been learning all the time. If I didn’t think I was capable of doing it I wouldn’t have accepted the role.

“I have a very experienced squad‚ which I’m grateful for. And what do you do as a young coach? The opportunity is there‚ and I don’t think South African young coaches get enough of those.

“We keep giving chances to foreigners who don’t understand our football‚ who want to dicatet how we play in terms of European styles.

“So what do I do from a personal level? Do I shrink like a violet and not accept the responsibility? Or do I say‚ ‘I have the ability‚ I’ve been watching and learning‚ and I have a chance to do something’.

“If I can do something for this club‚ no matter what happens I will have gained experiebce. And that no-one can take away from me.”

Clark won his first league game‚ 2-1 at home to Stellenbosch FC‚ but since then Leopards have been approaching freefall with four defeats in succession.

The team have continued to play good football‚ though‚ and Clark said he believes that will translate into the points his team needs‚ when‚ or if‚ the league resumes.

“Ja‚ I think I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t confident. I still think I have a very talented squad at my disposal‚” he said.

“We still have a long way to go. I mean‚ six games‚ yes‚ we still need 10 points to be safe. And if we keep performing the way we do we’ll get those points.”

Last-placed Leopards have 20 points from 24 games.