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Only the best will do

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Only the best will do

by Brian Gaffney
27 Aug 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

THE script reflects the South African soccer scenario where falling from hero to zero status are seasonal occurrences experienced by most coaches.

So much so that eight out of the 16 coaches who started out with PSL clubs last season were either sacked or relegated to assistant positions in the cutthroat world of professional soccer.

And guessing which coach will be first to get the boot, after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) season gets underway this week, compares with dabbling with slot machines and lotteries.

One of the ideal places to pick up the storyline is Athlone Stadium, where Ajax Cape Town will host Maritzburg United tomorrow night, Wednesday 27 August.

Gordon Igesund, the most successful coach in the history of the PSL, will call the shots from the Maritzburg United bench. His main task is to stabilise the newly promoted Maritzburg side.

His counterpart, Craig Rosslee, on the other hand, has a more unenviable task ahead now that he is minus some of his most consistent players of last season, like Bryce Moon and Nathan Paulse.

When it comes to experience, Igusund has a distinct advantage. The new Maritzburg United coach is destined to retain a success record that will be difficult to match.

Thus far Igesund has steered four different clubs to league championship titles, namely Manning Rangers, Orlando Pirates, Santos and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Yet on the downside he was forced to quit at Pirates, Sundowns and, of course, at Ajax Cape Town because of poor results.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Rosslee was merely the head coach of the youth academy towards the end of Igesund's three-year spell with the Urban Warriors in 2006. The pressure is on Rosslee - the trophy cabinet at Ikamva had nothing new to show last season.

Rosslee also needs to dispel the perception that his uncompromising management style ruined Ajax's chances of building on the success of the champion Absa Cup side he inherited from his predecessor Muhsin Ertugral.

Yes, some of the Ajax players who have since moved elsewhere were not too keen to share in his victory embraces towards the end of last season.

It was an open secret that communication between Rosslee and his former goalkeeper Hans Vonk was literally poles apart.

In fairness to Rosslee, the task of keeping together a nucleus of seasoned campaigners and the biggest contingent of teens in the pro ranks was no easy task.

The teen brigade of Shameehg Doutie, Nazeer Allie and Thulani Serrero is still around. And so are stalwarts Brett Evans, Franklyn Cale and Brazilian recruit Eduardo Ferreira.

Among the new faces at Ajax are goalkeeper Shaun Roberts (ex-BidVest Wits), Mabhuti Khenyeza (ex-Kaizer Chiefs) Ghanaian marksman Joseph Masel, utility defender Thom-Rick October (ex-Santos) and Martin Carelse (ex-AmaZulu) But back to Igesund who is determined to resuscitate a successful coaching career, after being fired by Sundowns.

His hastily assembled Maritzburg squad is well stocked with former Capetonians like Fadlu Davids (ex-Vasco da Gama), Omar Hendricks (ex-Santos) and Peter Petersen (ex-Hellenic).

Former Ajax defender Bageta Dikulu, Gary Goldstone (ex-Bloemfontein Celtic) and Manuel Tico-Tico Bucuane (Orlando Pirates) have been recruited, too.

Bucuane (34), starred for Jomo Cosmos before enjoying spells with SuperSport United and Pirates. The ace in Igesund's pack, however, promises to be new signing Ivorian striker Brice Aka (25), who has completed a successful spell with Moroccan giants, Raja Casablanca.

Igesund says he is impressed by the strongly-built striker's allround ability.

So Ajax beware - Igesund is bound to go the aerial route. Aka is destined to play a key role in a game plan that has assured Igesund of quite a few league championship titles.

Remember how Igesund used the lanky George Koumantarakis to spearhead Manning Rangers' successful challenge for the league title in 1995? And how effective Santos' leading marksman Jean-Marc Ithier was when he played a similar target man role when Santos won the league title with Igesund at the helm in 2002? The Igesund inspired aerial raids involving Aka and ex-Kaapie Davids should start any time after the 19:30 start in Athlone tomorrow.

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