Santos 'go to' Solomons again
During his playing days, Boebie Solomons was nicknamed "Asem", Afrikaans for breath. The name was in tribute to his remarkable stamina.
It's a moniker that's stuck, but perhaps it should be altered to "Go to".
Solomons has become Santos's "go to" man. Whenever they have a coaching vacuum, they "go to" Solomons. He's had so many caretaker-coaching slots at Santos, the club might as well erect a house on the training premises and give the key to the 47-year-old coach.
Now, after the sudden departure of coach Muhsin Ertugral, Santos have again gone to Solomons. And he has the task of preparing a demoralised team for a mammoth encounter against much-improved Ajax Cape Town at Newlands on Wednesday night.
This time, though, "Go to" is not alone. He has quality support in assistant coach Farouk Khan, the former head of Kaizer Chiefs' youth development programme.
Khan is highly rated and qualified, having successfully passed coaching courses in South Africa and Brazil.
He was born in Johannesburg and played for Dynamos as a junior. Before he could join the Dynamos senior team as a 19-year-old in the then-Federation, he suffered a serious knee injury which led him to switch to coaching.
He linked up with Dynamos as a youth coach before studying and coaching at the South African Football Academy under Ted Dumitru in 1990. Other coaches there were Shakes Mashaba and Trott Moloto.
He graduated in 1992 and received a scholarship for a six-week coaching programme in Brazil where he worked with Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mario Zagallo.
On his return he joined then Kaizer Chiefs captain Neil Tovey to start the Soccer School of Excellence.
In 1996 he was approached by Chiefs to head their youth development and became assistant coach to Ertugral at the Amakhosi.
"I was at Chiefs for five years and brought through a number of the players who are household names there today," Khan said. "But I have ambitions and upward mobility was always going to be a problem at Chiefs. The chairman Kaizer Motaung makes it clear that Chiefs are a high-profile team and that in the long period he will always employ a foreign coach."
Khan believes that it is only a matter of time before club owners change their opinion about local coaches.
"Local coaches are starting to make their presence felt," he said. "The top of the PSL log tells the story. Gavin Hunt at Swallows, Pitso Mosimane at Supersport, Khabo Zondo at Golden Arrows, Roger de Sa at Wits University."
After a month at Santos, what is Khan's assessment of the team?
"I think that footballers, and human beings for that matter, are resistant to change," he said.
"When Muhsin (Ertugral) and I came here, we introduced new things, new tactics, new training methods, a completely different approach. It takes time for players to adapt and perhaps that was the problem."
Ajax Cape Town: Moeneeb Josephs, Innocent Mayoyo, Andile Sixaba, Dominic Isaacs, Thulani Ncube, Duran Francis, Sipho Ndzuzo, Brett Evans, Shane Poggenpoel, Yanga Gcileshe, Dillon Sheppard, Edzai Kasinauyo, Josep Ngake, Robert Nauseb, Bradley August, Nathan Paulse, Brent Carelse, Grant Igesund, Anthony Baffoe, Junaid Hartley
Santos: Andre Arendse, Kevin Fisher, Edries Burton, John Mbidzo, Musa Otieno, Tebogo Tsiu, Tyren Arendse, Vincent Sokhela, David Mabeta, Mxolisi Mchunu, Jonathan Solomons, Patrick Thwala, Jean-Marc Ithier, David Notoane, Thokozani Xaba, Fees Moloi, Ricardo Mannetti, Kamaal Sait, Marawaan Bantam, Jeremy Jansen, Peter Kirsten
This week's fixtures:
Kaizer Chiefs v Moroka Swallows (Live on SS3, 8pm)
Ajax Cape Town v Santos (Newlands, 8pm)
Jomo Cosmos v Supersport United
Manning Rangers v Black Leopards
Wits University v Golden Arrows
Bush Bucks v Moroka Swallows
Dynamos v Santos
Ajax Cape Town v Hellenic (Newlands, 3.30pm)
Sundowns v Orlando Pirates
Kaizer Chiefs v African Wanderers