The PSL hiring and firing madness


It’s just typical of the football break in South Africa, folks. Whenever the international break comes around, these chairmen – and, in one instance, chairlady – flex their muscles in the boardroom to stamp their authority just in case there were any doubts about who’s really running the show.

I’m convinced they are likely to start an argument in an empty room with each passing day of no domestic football. You see, the PSL took a decision – which in many ways should be applauded – to hit pause on the Absa Premiership during the CAF Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal.

This was done to make sure the junior national team coach Owen da Gama has the best players to select for the competition, which serves as a qualifier for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.

Only the top three in that eight-nation tournament earn a ticket to Brazil, and the league wanted to make sure South Africa were in with a shout. Makes sense, right?

Well, some club bosses have taken advantage of the hiatus, which is nearly four months long, to make some notable changes in the dugout. Almost right on cue, with the Under-23 team barely in mid-air, Bloemfontein Celtic and Clinton Larsen cut ties last week following the side’s 2-0 defeat to Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium in the Free State. It was apparently a normal sunny Monday morning in Mangaung when Larsen clocked in for a “routine” meeting with his employers to innocently go over the team’s performance in the past few matches.

But Celtic owner Max Tshabalala had a different agenda. The businessman had been tossing and turning all night. It would seem he believed Larsen needed help and his old pal from Roses United, Duncan Lechesa, was the ideal Fireman Sam to come in as a second assistant to the head coach. It came as no surprise that Larsen wasn’t having any of it and opted to quit rather than agree to being dictated to by Tshabalala, who by the way, just about ran Roses to the ground all on his own before pursuing lofty ambitions of being the owner of a team in the top-flight.

Serame Letsoaka as Larsen’s replacement isn’t too shabby, but Bra Max would be doing himself a favour if he found a solid hobby to get his mind off football now and again, especially given that Celtic, who are sixth on the log standings, would have jumped to third if they had beaten Aces that Sunday.

Letsoaka himself is en route to Bloemfontein as a result of another coaching merry-go-round circus after he quit his job at Golden Arrows all of a sudden, citing his desire to be close to his family as a factor. There’s a veil of secrecy around his resignation, and it seems Arrows owner Mato Madlala may have been too occupied with her other job – as the acting PSL chief executive – and missed the telltale signs that the coach was unhappy.

That is a story for another day. Perhaps Letsoaka will reveal all when he is unveiled by his new club at a press conference on Monday. His decision to call it quits at Arrows came hot on the heels of one of his counterparts in KwaZulu-Natal being shown the door at Maritzburg United. Clive Barker had barely redecorated his office when he was told he is “too soft” to deal with the pressure at the relegation-threatened club. The “Dog” only managed five points from a possible 15 in his five matches in charge, and that did him in.

Not one of these coaching changes was warranted if you consider there’s still some way to go before the halfway stage of the season. And in the case of Arrows and Celtic, who are both comfortably in the top eight bracket, parting ways – amicable or not – comes across as miscalculated.

Good luck for the rest of the season – you are going to need it. - Saturday Star

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