Posted in News on Apr 06, 2001.
There was a healthy buzz whenever Sundowns were playing. But after winning no less than eight titles with the Pretoria team, the prodigal son went back to his roots, at Naturena.
Here, he discovered a set-up where Kaizer Chiefs have put an impressive structure. But the team had lost their glory days.
In this interview with THOMAS KWENAITE, he explains that he was tasked with the duties of recruiting new players and what his responsibilities as Chief Talent Scout and Development Co-ordinator at Chiefs entail. But it is not an easy job.
Never before has Kaizer Chiefs suffered so many injuries to so many players?
I cannot even begin to explain the phenomenon. At one stage, we had about eight players all injured and the coach couldn’t field a settled side for two consecutive games. Thankfully, that period is over.
How did it actually happen, was it a curse?
No. I wouldn’t say that. But things were just not working out. And when the team requested the league to postpone our fixtures because we had players representing the country at the Olympics in Sydney, that about destroyed the rhythm. But fortunately we had depth and although we didn’t perform as expected, we at least managed to pull through.
For the first time in the history of the club, Chiefs spent a fortune, estimated at R4-m, buying players, but the acquisitions have not really brought much joy.
I’d say the amount of money spent is justified, a good investment.
The only thing is that the players that we purchased were good at their respective clubs. And we expected them to transform the same performances to Naturena. But Chiefs are a different team.
Some players get intimidated when they arrive. They don’t have big hearts. They do not happen to be players for the big occasion and unfortunately, some of them are not burning the grass as we expected. But, I’m not blaming them because Chiefs are such a huge team.
Tony Illodigwe came with a big reputation at Chiefs but has also not really set the grass on fire!
Yes, Tony was a big hit at African Wanderers and scored brilliant goals as well. This is what attracted us to him in the first place. We spent a lot of money to bring him to Naturena, largely because we did not have a big man upfront, somebody to replace Pollen Ndlanya and we believed Tony fitted the bill perfectly.
We thought Tony would be an ideal replacement for "Trompies". He has the right imposing physique and presence in the penalty area and proved a formidable man in the air and we believed other players would feed off him. But Tony has failed to bring to Chiefs the same qualities we saw when he was at Wanderers.
Perhaps injuries on his arrivalhave something to do with it. I must admit I am a little disappointed in him. We even thought of putting him on transfer. But after sitting down and speaking to the player, he promised to put in extra effort and against Bush Bucks in the Bob Save Super Bowl, he showed flashes of the Tony that I admired and maybe it was a sign of what to expect from him in future.
What do you look for when you buy a player for Kaizer Chiefs?
It depends on the position. If you want a midfielder, he needs to possess the qualities of a schemer, be able to create and take charge in the middle. For a defender, the same qualities apply and in a striker, you look for someone who can score goals, someone who knows the area around the penalty box well.
On the other hand, a coach as well has to play a certain role in how he treats his players. At times players have been coached, but still need to be taught certain things. Players come from different clubs, different establishment and cultures and it takes time to adapt to their new surroundings.
They have also developed influences from their previous coaches and you as new coach need to know how to work with different players in order to get the best out of them. And for that, a coach needs patience. Take Siyabonga Nomvete. It took him a full year under Paul Dolezar where he never played at all. I think Dolezar never believed in the boy, never motivated him to exploit his full potential.
Read more in the April issue of Amakhosi