Orlando Pirates sprung a Valentine’s Day surprise with the announcement of former Kaizer Chiefs mentor Vladimir Vermezovic as their new head coach.
It remains to be seen if a love affair will blossom between the Buccaneers and Vermezovic, the latter hardly carrying a supreme pedigree from his spell with Amakhosi.
The 50-year-old Serb was with Chiefs for the best part of three seasons from 2009 to 2012. While he did pick up two Telkom Knockout titles, he failed to guide Amakhosi to the Absa Premier League crown, twice finishing third in the table.
Nevertheless, Vermezovic did win the Serbian league title last season at the helm of Partizan Belgrade.
“I have unfinished business in South Africa,” he told the Pirates website yesterday.
“Orlando Pirates, a giant in African football, is offering me an opportunity to fulfil a dream of a lifetime. I am grateful for the opportunity.
“I have had to study Orlando Pirates very closely from the other side. I am therefore not coming into an unknown environment. It should help because I know the supporters expect me to hit the deck running.”
Vermezovic has signed a three-year deal to coach Pirates, but is highly unlikely to be on the bench at Polokwane City this afternoon as the Buccaneers still have to organise his work permit.
Eric Tinkler is set to again give the instructions today. Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza has confirmed he will continue as assistant to Vermezovic.
“Eric is a can-do man who would fail trying rather than provide excuses. His work ethic is commendable. His commitment and hard work is not going unnoticed. I am confirming that Eric will continue in his role as assistant coach,” said Khoza in welcoming Vermezovic to the club.
“VV is not new to South African conditions. His hunger and discipline is impressive,” said the Bucs chairman.
Pirates will move within 14 points of league leaders Chiefs, with four games in hand, if they can win at third-from-bottom City this afternoon.
Elsewhere today, second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns can move within six points of Chiefs, with a game in hand, if they beat Ajax Cape Town in Tshwane this evening.
Sundowns’ defence has improved of late, with keeper Kennedy Mweene and his back four helping Sundowns gain ground on Chiefs, keeping clean sheets in their past two games. - Independent on Saturday