Rustenburg – It was supposedly the match that would put Roger de Sa on the brink of Orlando Pirates’ exit door, but a performance of high quality left him grinning afterwards, knowing he still has a job.
De Sa has been here before, but on each occasion when he was expected to be dead and buried, he passed with flying colours.
It was the case again in Monday’s Absa Premiership clash against Platinum Stars, when Pirates scored three unanswered goals inside the opening 33 minutes to move off the foot of table.
For De Sa, such a convincing win didn’t suddenly mean he had to answer back at his critics, some of whom are sure to emerge with the next poor result.
“It’s always like that,” the Pirates coach said. “When you’re a coach, every meal you have at the club base might turn out to be your last dinner. You never know if you’ll be back. But that’s the name of the game. This is football.
“You’re always going to hear stories about your job being on the line. But I don’t read much into that. I don’t think we’ve performed badly. I lost two finals to Allan Freese (the Stars coach), and came second in Africa. If that’s a bad record that should make me to be fired, it means only Allan Freese has to keep his job because no other coach reached a final this season.
“But I’ve always said I have a contract which has 18 months to run.”
Instead of spending Christmas scanning the job market, De Sa is relaxed as Pirates go into their final two matches of the year – against Tuks tomorrow and Golden Arrows on Sunday at Orlando Stadium.
Maximum points in both games would push Bucs to somewhere near mid-table, which would be remarkable given that they still have about five matches in hand.
“I’m happy that we are no longer the bottom side, but the truth is the clubs above us have played more games. We will aim to get six points and finish the year on a high. But we are aware that we face an uphill battle in the first few months of the new year. Our programme will be hectic as we play catch up.”
While De Sa knows victories over Tuks and Arrows are highly possible, he cautioned against taking the two struggling sides lightly. “We’ll be expected to win against teams who are in the bottom half of the standings, especially as we are playing at home. But those games won’t be easy. Last season we beat Tuks away and drew with them at home.
“Arrows are struggling but they’ll want to bounce back any time. It will be difficult to motivate players for these games because they might think they are easy. For this game (against Platinum Stars) I didn’t have to do any motivational talk because the players wanted to do well after losing two cup finals to them.”
Monday’s 3-0 win at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace – courtesy of goals from Thandani Ntshumayelo, Oupa Manyisa and Daine Klate – came about after De Sa decided to change his tactics, with Kermit Erasmus the fulcrum of Bucs’ attack and having a hand in all the goals.
“They (Stars) didn’t know who to pick because Erasmus was a surprise element. He was running all over the place as a false striker. We had to try something new and it worked very well for us, but I thought we could have squeezed in a fourth or fifth goal.”
Despite Erasmus excelling in the role of lead attacker, De Sa said he won’t necessarily use that strategy all the time.
“It gives us an option,” he said. “But using it will depend on what kind of opposition we face.”