Vladimir Vermezovic, once notably lost his rag, when questioned about the Carling Black Label Cup. These days, however, the Serbian coach has mellowed to the point of genuine enthusiasm on the subject of allowing the fans to do his job.
Back in 2011, in the colours of Kaizer Chiefs, Vermezovic famously said: “I must be honest, I don’t like this format of the game.
“I don’t know if I’m PRO (public relations officer) or coach, because I’m definitely not the coach of this game.”
Yesterday, however, now on the side of Orlando Pirates, ‘VV’ appeared to have discovered the benefits of being allowed to slack off for a day.
“I will enjoy it, it is the only game where I can sit on the sideline and not shout and throw water,” said the Bucs coach, whose volatile matchday personality is well known to all who have watched him in his time in South Africa.
Chiefs and Pirates will go head to head on Saturday (3pm kick-off) in the fourth edition of this controversial tournament, that the purists may scoff at, but that as a marketing exercise, has been an undoubted success.
Another capacity crowd of 90000 or so fans will pack into FNB Stadium to watch the players that many supporters have voted for, in the one-and-only pre-season Soweto derby.
“This game is very interesting, like every game against Chiefs you don’t need special preparation,” added Vermezovic.
“The game after, against SuperSport (in the MTN8) is very important, and I am sure our guys will play very well (on Saturday).
“This game (the Black Label Cup) is very entertaining for a lot of supporters …
“We are ready for the game, we have worked very hard.”
Pirates have been fairly quiet in the transfer market so far, with Senegalese defensive midfielder Issa Sarr the only addition to the squad.
Vermezovic says he hopes for a few more signings before the transfer window closes, but that he is happy with his current squad.
“I was very happy with how we worked in the pre-season camp … the players will be ready (for Chiefs).
“We have a good squad … this is a team that for one or two seasons has been together.
“We need two or three new faces to make competition in the squad a little higher. And if the new faces don’t come, I don’t care.”
One area Pirates have yet to strengthen is their strikeforce, having battled last season to bother the scorers.
But Vermezovic does not seem unduly bothered.
“It doesn’t matter how many strikers we have, it is more about how many players can finish. I would like to see more players scoring, not only Kermit (Erasmus) or (Lennox) Bacela. We also have our set pieces where guys like Ayanda (Gcaba) and Lucky (Lekgwathi) can score. I hope next season it (the strike rate) will be much better,” said the Pirates coach.
Another striker, and one set to face Chiefs according to the votes, is Lehlohonolo Majoro, who won the cup for Chiefs last season, but like his coach, is now in Pirates colours. And Majoro says he does not feel any extra pressure going into this game.
“The pressure is there whether you play for Maritzburg, Chiefs or Pirates,” he said.
“The difference is how you handle the pressure.”