Teboho Moloi has been in football long enough not to allow a good run of form to see him get carried away.
In any case, Chippa United’s unbeaten league run under his guidance is happening at a time when the Absa Premiership is going through an uncharacteristically poor patch during which the gap between the side on top and the bottom-dwellers is a mere 10 points.
Still, in this game, small victories should be celebrated - albeit with caution.
“It’s good to see that some of what we are working on is happening as planned. I feel we’re on the right track but there’s still a need for us to learn to be as ruthless up front as Sundowns are,” Moloi said yesterday as he anticipated the Chilli Boys’ visit to Ajax Cape Town, though the match will be played at Bidvest Stadium given the unavailability of venues in the Mother City.
It’s a trip that excites Moloi, the Braamfontein venue being one of his favourites even from back in his playing days.
“I love Milpark, I’ve always had good games there even when I was a player. It is very compact and the crowd is close by so it gives you a rush as a player. But also the goals on the other side seem so close that when you play you feel you can easily get to the opposition danger area.”
But it is a recent result there that has Moloi looking forward to leading Chippa against the Urban Warriors tonight.
“We beat Wits 2-0 there recently and that was one of our best games. So the guys are really looking forward to playing there again. And I believe Ajax have been up there for a while now so I think this will work in our favour. I think they will struggle with the altitude.”
Speaking of struggles, Moloi is pleased that Chippa did not take long to warm up to his ways. He describes himself as having always longed to work with Dan Malesela given the two of them are ‘from the same school’.
“I’m very lucky to have joined a team that already had a great foundation. Roger Sikhakhane built them into a competitive team and then Dan came and taught them the importance of keeping possession while playing creatively. When I looked at them I realised that all they needed was to get results. They were good at keeping the ball but they did not know how to work hard for it when they lost it. We are learning to do that now while also working on us to be able to play entertaining football that has an end result.
“We need to be lethal up front, to make our dominant play result in goals. It is a work in progress, but I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”
At Chippa though, Moloi cannot be guaranteed to reach the end of that tunnel given club boss Chippa Mpengesi’s trigger happiness.
The man they call Tebza, however, says his boss is highly misunderstood.
“Chippa is a football man through and through. You need to understand him to be able to work with him. He reminds me of the Pirates officials who were at the club when my father (the late Chippa Moloi) coached the club. Those guys, like Bra Sixty, Bra Malgas, Bra Skhumbuzo used to come to the DOCC and discuss the team with him. At other clubs they’ll call it interference, but when you’ve grown up seeing it, you understand that they just have the interest of the club at heart and yours is to convince them why you are picking the team that you are. We discuss football and the team until the early hours of the morning with Chippa, he calls me anytime and it is always about the team. And I’ve learnt from Bra Irvin (Khoza) that listening is a skill and I listen to him just as much as he also listens to me.”
So long as they see eye to eye and the club keeps the losses away, their relationship will be as cosy as Moloi makes it out to be.
Beating Ajax tonight will be a priority.