Coaching changes offer hope for PSL strugglers

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Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and Bloemfontein Celtic parted with their head coaches before the international disruption, and Maritzburg United will have a temporary change because of Ernst Middendorp’s suspension.

The weekend’s glamour fixture is the Mamelodi Sundowns versus Kaizer Chiefs duel at Loftus Versfeld this afternoon, where respective coaches Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela are well settled. The early-evening game between Orlando Pirates and Free State Stars will have the Bucs faithful eagerly anticipating a rejuvenation under caretaker coach Augusto Palacios.

The Peruvian, a naturalised South African, is in familiar territory, having stepped into the hot seat a few seasons ago when Brazil's Julio Leal walked the plank. The change did the trick as Palacios steadied the ship and steered the side to the title.

Their opponents, Free State Stars, are also an example of how a coaching change can yield immediate results.

Since the arrival of Italy's Giovanni Solinas the Bethlehem outfit have been unbeaten in five matches in league and cup play. That’s the kind of response Pirates will expect after the disappointment of Muhsin Ertugral’s brief reign.

In the late-night clash, Fadlu Davids will take temporary charge of Maritzburg against Ajax Cape Town’s Stanley Menzo. This will be the Dutchman’s second game in charge since the exit of Roger De Sa. Sweeping changes are likely from Menzo, the Urban Warriors’ former head of youth development, as he tries to register their first win of the season.

For Maritzburg, Davids's presence might be a refreshing change for the players - as well as the officials. Middendorp has a tendency to rub the match officials the wrong way, which has already seen him charged with misconduct this season.

A calmer bench might help the team, who are just as eager as their hosts for a turnaround. The Team of Choice will look for their first win in nine league and cup outings. They haven’t won since they beat Bloemfontein Celtic on the opening day of the season. A huge positive for them is that striker Evans Rusike broke his goal drought before the break, and newcomer Devon Saal also opened his account. However, they will miss Bevan Fransman through suspension.

Sunday, Celtic’s interim coaches John Maduka and Lehlohonolo Seema will make their home bow. They took charge for the away loss against Cape Town City after Serame Letsoaka was dismissed.

The other match Sunday sees Golden Arrows targeting a return to form at the expense of Highlands Park. Arrows coach Clinton Larsen will be buoyed by the return to full match fitness of Zimbabwean international attacker Kudakwashe Mahachi. He featured in Zimbabwe’s 3-0 friendly triumph over Tanzania, and showed no ill-effects from the arm fracture that had sidelined him for almost a month.

The only home action in the pro ranks this weekend is a KwaZulu-Natal derby between AmaZulu and Thanda Royal Zulu at uMlazi’s King Zwelithini Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

Victory for Usuthu will mark a first defeat of the campaign for log leaders Thanda. It will also loosen the noose that has been tightening around AmaZulu coach Joey Antipas’s neck. The Durban side go into the clash on the back of five losses in six matches.

Independent on Saturday

Original source: Coaching changes offer hope for PSL strugglers

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