JOHANNESBURG – Teboho Moloi’s new role at Chippa United is far from being the ideal launch pad for a coaching career in the elite Premier Soccer League, but it should be applauded nonetheless.
Now 49, Moloi has been too long in the shadows of former Orlando Pirates coaches, where he has had several stints as an assistant, and even held the title of caretaker at some point during his spells with the Buccaneers.
He and Doctor Khumalo, a man he was often compared to in terms of stature and skill while the two were both still footballers – Moloi for Pirates and Khumalo at rivals Kaizer Chiefs – were widely criticised for not taking risks and testing themselves as coaches.
Khumalo most recently took the unexpected route of being a technical director when he was offered that role at Baroka FC, ending his lengthy relationship with Amakhosi, which was said to be rocky towards the end.
Apparently Khumalo was a mere ornament at Naturena after he was demoted from his position as assistant coach to Steve Komphela last year.
Moloi, on the other hand, has gone straight into the kitchen and faced the heat head-on by taking the Chippa coaching job, albeit temporarily and with the odds heavily stacked against him that he is likely to spend Christmas jobless, given chairman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi’s trigger-happy ways.
Moloi is a beneficiary of yet another sacking at the club following the dismissal of Dan Malesela last week, just three matches into the Absa Premiership campaign.
He was initially brought in prior to the start of the season to be Malesela’s second in command, but it turns out the two, who shared a dressing room at Pirates in the 1990s, didn’t quite see eye to eye.
It was then, perhaps, that Mpengesi saw a future Chippa coach in Moloi, who was immediately announced as an interim replacement when Malesela was given the boot.
Moloi, who’d been comfortable growing a grey beard and called on an ad-hoc basis at Pirates and enjoying his screen time as a TV pundit for SuperSport now and again, has completely stepped out of his comfort zone.
He now has an opportunity to prove to his detractors that all the years spent as an assistant coach to Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, Roger de Sa and then Eric Tinkler at Pirates was not because he was a charity case.
It’s believed that he was highly influential at Pirates and often tried to bridge any gap between the players and the head coach. That’s invaluable experience, if true.
And there’s no better time than now to build on that and maybe go on to make a name for himself in a role he has always desired, but never been brave enough to pursue.
Mpengesi’s reputation as a chairman who hires and fires coaches at will should inspire Moloi rather than intimidate him.
The fact that he accepted the job proves that he backs himself to finally come out of a safe zone and into an environment known to be extremely harsh when results aren’t going your way – and Mpengesi will be a constant nag if Moloi slacks off now and again. He might even sack him at the first sign that he’s incompetent.
This new journey for Moloi would unsettle a few of the high-profile coaches, but it was about time he got his hands dirty.