Pretoria - One of the most strenuous jobs in the world must be coaching a professional football team.
If you are not pestered by demanding soccer bosses, the fans are hurling insults at you for not fielding their favourite player or the supporters bay for your blood following a string of undesirable performances.
It took Khotso Mfati just 90 minutes to convince himself that coaching was not for him.
Mfati was at the helm of one of the biggest teams in South Africa for a day.
The Buccaneers supporter was the coach of Orlando Pirates during last year’s Carling Black Label Cup, a pre-season tournament where fans of Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs decide on the line-up.
Two supporters from each team will get an opportunity to be coach of their favourite side.
Mfati was one of them in charge of the Buccaneers in the Soweto Derby last July.
“It’s not an easy job. I wouldn’t want to be a coach. Coaches work hard and football is not easy.
“You do something at training and players get to the game and do the opposite. You try to shout and they don’t hear you. Training and a match are two different things,” Mfati said.
Although Pirates lost 1-0 to Chiefs in front of a packed FNB Stadium in July, Mfati says the experience of leading stars such as Lucky Lekgwathi, Oupa Manyisa, Kermit Erasmus and a host of others was phenomenal.
“Being a Carling Black Label Cup coach was out of this world. It doesn’t get better than coaching in a Soweto Derby. Not all get a chance. I was over the moon.
“The spotlight was on me. I moved from one media house to the next doing interviews and I had great time. Having 90 000 people watching you do your thing is awesome. The players were welcoming too.
“The respect they gave me was awesome. I felt at home,” said Mfati, who works at a government department in Pretoria.
He says being involved as a champion coach has enhanced his knowledge of the game.
“I understand the difficulties that coaches face. You do presentations on tactical awareness before the match. It’s not easy being a coach but it is great,” said Mfati.
Pirates and Chiefs will lock horns again on July 27 in the same tournament.
Mfati says the next coaches to be selected should absorb as much as possible.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about the game. As a coach, you just have to enjoy it and not worry about the nerves,” said the 31 year old, who insists that Chiefs scorer Lehlohonolo Majoro, now a Pirates player, was offside.
So far Pirates have signed highly-rated central midfielder Issa Saar from Platinum Stars.
Mfati believes the Senegalese midfielder will fill the void left by Andile Jali, who now plies his trade in Belgium.
“Jali left a huge gap. Bibo Ntshumayelo and Lehlogonolo Masalesa tried but they couldn’t fill Jali’s boots. I think Saar will deliver. He will control the midfield.
“He is a great buy,” said the man who hails from Bela Bela in Limpopo.
“Pirates need to sign two defenders – a central defender and a leftback. Thabo Matlaba needs some serious competition. Our strike force is strong so we don’t need new signings,” he said.
With the World Cup under way in Brazil, Mfati will be cheering the Germans to go all the way to glory.
“Germany play good football. Their tactics are on point. The players are great.
“A world-class keeper in Manuel Neuer and the likes of Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mesuit Ozil will carry the team,” said Mfati.