JOHANNESBURG – The fear of being relegated pushed Chippa United chairman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi to send coach Dan Malesela packing, his agent said on Thursday.
Malesela has been placed on “special leave” by the club following a string of poor results and that essentially means he is on his way out.
“Both parties agree that the team hasn’t been doing well, so there are no conflicts about steps that need to be taken, although the coach was still confident the club would not be relegated,” said Tim Sukazi, who represents Malesela.
A 3-2 defeat at home against Maritzburg United on Tuesday night drove Mpengesi into panic mode, leaving Chippa just two points ahead of bottom of the log side Baroka FC. The loss also meant the Port Elizabeth-based outfit had stretched their winless run in the league to 10 straight matches. Mpengesi, who has often spoken about how much he admirers Malesela, felt it was time to pull the plug.
“We can understand where the club owner is coming from. He felt he needed to act quickly to avoid an unwanted scenario, and Dan isn’t fighting him on this because he also agrees results have been poor,” Sukazi explained.
What about compensation for the coach, which Mpengesi was heard in a radio interview several months ago revealing that he’d have to pay R4-million if he were to fire Malesela?
“The compensation is what it is and it is there in the contract,” said Sukazi, without mentioning the amount. “We are working on the paper work now and the club will communicate further in a statement. He still had two more years remaining on his contract after he renewed it not so long ago. Dan was still confident the team could still make it into the top eight because if you look at the log table, it is very strange in that with just two consecutive wins you could move higher up the log. But for now the coach will sit back and rest and see what happens next season.”
Malesela, 51, arrived at Chippa as an assistant coach in November 2015 and was promoted to head coach a month later after Mpengesi had put then trainer Roger Sikhakhane on “special leave” pending an investigation into allegations that he showed up at the club’s training grounds reeking of alchohol. He was susbequently fired and Malesela has been in charge since, guiding the side to a sixth place finish at the end of the previous season.
Chippa made it as far as the semifinals of the MTN8 in this current campaign and were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Mamelodi Sundowns. They also made it into the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup and will host SuperSport United on May 20.