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The grass is not always greener on the PSL side for coaches

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BONGANI MALUNGA

The lure of the mega rich ABSA Premiership is enough to tempt any footballer, coach or administrator, any of them would jump at the opportunity to test themselves at one of Africa’s greatest leagues. Making such a move is considered an upgrade as they would get a chance to experience a whole new playing field, away from their usual comfort zone.

Many players have left their comfort abode to test themselves in South Africa and a lot of them have left their mark including the likes of Joel Mogorosi (at Bloemfontein Celtic), Mogogi Gabonamong (at Santos and Supersport United), Diphetogo Selolwane (Ajax Cape Town, Supersport United) and Mogakolodi Ngele to name a few.

However, the same cannot be said about most coaches who have swapped Botswana jobs for the South African league. A case in point is the recent ill-fated tenure of former Township Rollers coach Nikola Kavazovic in the ABSA Premiership with Free State Stars.

Stars announced, this past week, that they have parted ways with the Serbian coach following their relegation to the First Division. Kavazovic’s agent, Ivan Stankovic, revealed that his client had inserted a relegation clause in his contract which enabled him to leave the club if relegated.

Kavazovic had built an incredible reputation in Botswana with a league and cup double (BTC Premiership and the Mascom Top 8 in 2018) which had not been achieved in Botswana since BDF XI in 2004 (league and Coca Cola Cup).

The Serbian tactician was also the first coach to lead a Botswana club to the group stages of the CAF Champions League, at the time he even attracted the attention of Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs according to reports. Making the giant leap to South Africa proved to be a stretch for the coach as his side finished rock bottom of the league in the 2018/2019 season.

Another recent example is Peter Butler who saw his three year contract with Platinum Stars terminated after only two games at the helm. Butler divided opinions during his Zebras spell but he made a positive impression in terms of building the team through his national talent identification programs and handing a lot of young players their national team debut, most of whom are in the current national team. The ABSA Premiership was not so welcoming as he left Platinum Stars earlier than expected.

Another former Zebras coach, Veselin Jelusic, actually fared a lot better as he kept Bloemfontein Celtic in the league as the club had shown signs of struggling before his arrival. Although his tenure was considered a success as he kept the team afloat in the 2017/2018 season, finishing 11th. Jelusic even won the ABSA Premiership Coach of the Month award in October but unlike the aforementioned coaches his departure was not influenced by his club’s performances.

He resigned from his post at the end of the 2017/2018 season with unconfirmed reports of unpaid wages believed to be the reason for his exit.

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