JOHANNESBURG - Kgoloko Thobejane cut a regal figure, perched on a chair like it was a throne as he held court at the Premier Soccer League’s offices on Thursday, with a bright smile that could light up a city.
The Baroka FC coach has every right to have that smile and feel like a king with Bakgaga sitting on the PSL summit after 10 games, a huge transformation for the team that avoided relegation last season through the play-offs. The club’s chairman Khurishi Mphahlele boasted that Thobejane is the best coach in the country after Pitso Mosimane.
“I personally see myself as the best coach (in the country),” Thobejane said. “I strongly believe that I am the best of the best.”
Underneath that boastful nature and charisma that has made Thobejane a hit lies a good man-manager who is able to get the best out of Baroka players because he knows how to touch their hearts.
The players play for him, which is how they find themselves at the summit and having eliminated the Telkom Knockout champions Cape Town City to book a date with the struggling league champions Bidvest Wits in the quarter-finals at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night.
“You should never compare yourself to anyone. If they say that this person is a champion, you must know that also underneath you is a champion ready to be awakened. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid," Thobejane added.
"Even if you were to tell me to go to play Europa (League) today, I can play because I believe I can. It’s just that I can’t run now, the muscles are eish When I was a player, I was the best of the best.”
While most people in the football fraternity mock him, his players celebrate him because he pushes them to reach beyond their limits with the unwavering support he gives them. Thobejane has been at the club since its foundation in 2007, holding different roles until he gave up teaching to coach Baroka full-time in January last year when he helped them gain promotion to the elite league.