Who are top SA coaches?
MTNFootball.com looks at the South African
coaches who have enjoyed the best success over the past six months.
Since August, there has been furious action on the pitch and just as much drama off it, notably in the number of coaches fired already by unhappy clubs.
Already seven of the 16 Premier Soccer League sides have changed their bosses in a reflection of how tough it is these days and how strenuous the expectations.
But for every flop there is also a success and here, in order, is the selection of the best coaches of the season so far:
Cavin Johnson: Given the job full time at the start of the campaign after being caretaker towards the end of last season, Johnson has effortlessly stepped up into the limelight to efficiently drive a stark blend of experience and youth to near the top of the Premier Soccer League standings. Platinum Stars have never been this prominent in a championship chase before but are reaping the rewards of a good infra-structure and an ambitious back-room, led by a coach who is quickly making a name for himself.
Steve Barker: Quietly efficient with no showmanship but a steely grit, Barker has been honest in assessing his side’s debut in the PSL as beyond expectation. But few are fooled by the prospect of the Pretoria students fading away in the second half of the campaign. Instead they are likely to be up among the frontrunners rather than worrying about going back down to the National First Division in a testament to Barker’s ability on the bench.
Joseph Mkhonza: Taking the South African women’s side to the final of the continental championship in Equatorial Guinea in November was the biggest international achievement for the country this year. It included a first-ever win over old foes Nigeria. It earned Mkhonza a nomination in the government sports awards. Probably a better achievement was limiting the damaging at the Olympic Games where Banyana Banyana were expected to be hammered but left the tournament with heads held high.
Stuart Baxter: The toughest job in South African football -- Bafana Bafana included – looked to be going pear-shaped for Baxter after just 30 minutes as Mamelodi Sundowns bashed home four goals in one half in the first official game of the season in August. But Chiefs responded by beating AmaZulu 6-0 in their next match and set off on an unbeaten run that ensured they finished top of the PSL standings after the first half of the season.
Ernst Middendorp: It is not often the taciturn German is properly understood or seems to get to the point but is no doubting he knows his job. He does not have great resources at Maritzburg but has turned the team into a difficult opponent to deal with and taken them into the top eight in the standings despite limitations. Tempering expectation will be his next problem but the days of Maritzburg being a relegation candidate seem to be gone.
Clinton Larsen: Winning only the third major triumph for Bloemfontein Celtic sets him up in the annals of club history. Silverware was targeted by the club this season after they bought extensively in the off season but Larsen admitted he had problems getting them to gel at first and was not achieving what was expected at the start of the campaign. But a good cup run – crowned with success in the final over big spending Sundowns – has turned around the fortunes.
Roger De Sa: Fired by Wits just weeks before the start of the season, he bounced back quickly when asked to replace Augusto Palacios at Orlando Pirates. He has been involved in the local game for two decades and has taken charge of almost 400 games as a coach but was always going to be tested by the intensity of coaching a side that has to deal with the pressure Pirates are under. His initial results suggest he has handled it with aplomb.
Steve Komphela: Komphela continued to turn his Free State Stars outfit into an increasingly powerful force, finishing the first half of the season in fourth place on the league standings. Stars still need to show more consistency but they are a side that many other PSL teams fear the most – especially having to play them in the eastern Free State. Komphela has been at the centre of their continuing rehabilitation.
Gordon Igesund: A breath of fresh air for the national team even if a little eccentric with some of his marginal selections, overdoing his efforts to try and be as different as possible from his predecessor. Narrow defeats in Brazil and Poland suggest Igesund could do something with the side at the upcoming African Nations Cup finals although the home loss to Zambia exposed how hard it will be to do without many of the team’s established players.
Zeca Marques: Success in the MTN8 final got his new career at Swallows, as Igesund’s successor, off to the perfect start but a run of defeats in the league towards Christmas have proven a tough test and ensured a bleak holiday period with much on the table to ponder.