Jaco Van Der Merwe
Head of Motoring
3 minute read
23 Feb 2017
1:58 pm

Big Boss saw them coming from a mile away

Jaco Van Der Merwe

When Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza caught the waiting media contingent offside in announcing Bucs’ new coach Kjell Jonevret on Monday, I couldn’t help but think of the late, great Stephen Keshi’s famous words.

Like so many times before, one of Mzansi’s top clubs have paged through the hordes of local CVs and let’s call a spade a spade… plucked a European CV from obscurity.

The two leagues Jonevret has coached in, his home country Sweden and neighbours Norway, are ranked 21st and 24th respectively by Uefa, not really what you will call world-class.

And his solitary league title was won all of a dozen years ago.

“I am never against white coaches in Africa,’’ said Keshi.

“I am happy to work with a quality experienced white coach, who is better than me, so that I can learn from him.

“What I don’t accept is when you bring in a mediocre coach from Europe, a ‘carpenter’ coach, and tell me that he’s better than me,’’ Keshi said.

“And meanwhile, we have quality African former players, who can do the same thing, but you don’t give them the opportunity because they’re ‘just black dudes’. I don’t like that.”

The Nigerian superstar was very outspoken and rightly so.

He had first-hand experience on a continent where national sides and top clubs alike tend to go for the foreigner nine times out of 10.

And out of those nine probably only one goes on to achieve some form of success.

Take Mamelodi Sundowns for example.

They tried an array of foreigners in the form of Hristo Stoichkov, Antonio Lopez Habas and Johan Neeskens for a number of years before giving Pitso Mosimane the reins.

Sure, Neeskens and Stoichkov had great playing careers, but their credentials as head coaches where dubious at best when they arrived at Chloorkop … and still were when they left.

So they finally went back to a South African – and backed him when the fans were calling for his head – and look at what they have done under him.

Or what, I ask, haven’t they done under him?

You’ll find it hard to top Kaizer Chiefs for the number of foreign coaches they have had on their books.

In fact, the incumbent Steve Komphela in 2015 became the first local to be given the reins in the whole Premiership era.

Sure, foreigners like Stuart Baxter and Vladimir Vermezovic did help fill Naturena’s trophy cabinet, but there is no telling in whether locals with credentials wouldn’t have done the same had they not been overlooked.

During Jonevret’s unveiling, Khoza said: ‘’A coach with staying power is what has been a challenge, and we hope the Swedish temperament he has shown in teams he has stayed with for a long time, he can find something here and educate us.’’

There are so many things wrong with this statement.

First of all, besides Muhsin Ertugral, I doubt that any other coach really decides to walk without a nudge from the club.

Secondly, the last coach with staying power (on paper anyway), Dutchman Ruud Krol, was let go after winning three titles in his last season.

And in the third place, Bucs let their two recent locals in Roger de Sa and Eric Tinkler go after both reached the final of a continental competition.

Will we ever know what those two could have achieved had Bucs persevered with them like Downs did with Pitso?

But Bucs have made their bed and it would be unfair to judge Jonevret at this stage.

But should the Scandinavian not be around in three years’ time, his carpentry business probably couldn’t survive the rigours of Africa.

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