The Rockets stunned South Africa’s cup kings, Kaizer Chiefs, handing them a 1-0 defeat and condemning Amakhosi to their worst period in the club’s history, having gone four seasons without a trophy. Galaxy became the first National First Division side to win the Nedbank Cup, which comes with a cool R7million and the right to represent South Africa in the CAF Confederation Cup next season. It was a dramatic finale for Malesela - lifting the last trophy on offer in a season where he was the first coach to get the sack in the Premier Division.
Malesela was fired by Chippa United after just three games. But the mistreatment from the Chilli Boys is not the only embarrassment Malesela has suffered as a coach. He was fired by Garankuwa United and Cape Town All Stars even though he was doing well with those teams, but now he has had the last laugh by winning the country’s premier knock-out competition with a first-division team made up of unknowns.
“The one thing I taught myself to do, or maybe I was taught to do, is not to look to prove a point,” Malesela said.
“I was also taught not to go out for revenge. Mzwakhe Mbuli once said that an eye for an eye leaves the world blind. One of the biggest assets that I equipped myself with is to have solutions. For every problem I encounter, I think of a solution - wherever I am.
“I go into a filling station and I see there is a problem, I am already seeing why don’t they do this and that. My mind is set up like that.”
Malesela’s problem-solving abilities equipped his team well to deal with the threat posed by Chiefs. Galaxy pounced on the Chiefs’ psychological deficiencies as they were struggling, having finished ninth and on the verge of four seasons without a trophy.
“The clubs I have coached have taught me a lot of lessons,” Malesela said. “Realistically, and truly, this victory is the fruit of that period. I am hoping that this is just the beginning for bigger things to come.
“My saddest moment in football is when people tell me, ‘Dan, your teams are playing well. You’re such a great coach. There’s flair and we enjoy it.’ The evidence is there, people come. But people are doubting me. Sometimes I spend six months at home without working and not coaching, and I ask myself what have I done?”
Now that he is a Nedbank Cup champion, Malesela will finally get the respect he has always been denied. He and the club’s chairman, Tim Sukazi, will analyse the past season and prepare for the next campaign, which includes continental football, while fighting to gain promotion to the elite league.
“We have to sit with Tim to discuss the future because the biggest possibility is that we may lose players,” Malesela said. “That’s the reality. We have to plan properly and see where we are going.”