JOHANNESBURG – The thin CV that Veselin Jelusic arrived in the country with is being nourished bit-by-bit as he rebuilds Bloemfontein Celtic, dusting them up from the sorry state they were in last season to making them shine.
What the Serb lacked in achievements as a coach, he makes up with a strong background in education and ability to refine talent as was evident in his time in Botswana. Jelusic won his first accolade in South Africa on Thursday as he was named Coach of the Month for October.
He is two matches away from getting a proper accolade.
Celtic visit Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday next week with a place in the Telkom Knockout final up for grabs.
“Prior to being a football coach, I obtained a Masters degree and PhD (in Physical Education with a focus on football from the University Of Belgrade),” Jelusic said.
“I worked at the faculty of sport with football as my subject for 14 years. Later on, since 1999 up to now, I am a part-time professor for sport coaches in the department. The subjects I deal with are technical, tactical and methodology of football.
“It is about improving myself academically. My professional life has been about improving the theoretic and practical aspects of football.
“I hone the theoretical side in faculties and colleges that I have been to. The practical aspect is improved by my life as a coach. Both sides give me a lot of pleasure.”
In a short space of time Jelusic has given Siwelele a number of pleasurable moments, especially in the Telkom Knockout. Celtic bounced back from 2-0 down to beat Caf Confederation Cup finalists SuperSport United on penalties in the last 16.
They also came from a goal down to knock out Platinum Stars in Phokeng to set up a meeting with Rise and Shine in the last four.
Celtic have improved from the side that would have been relegated last season had Patrick Tignyemb not kept 13 cleans sheets, the most by any goalkeeper.
His clean sheets made up for his teammates’ misfiring ways as Celtic scored a paltry 16 goals – the least by any team.
“I had to improve the players psychologically first,” Jelusic said.
“It started in the friendly games we played to prepare for the season. The players gained confidence with each win which led to the good start that we have had. As our confidence rose, the better we played.
“I think we are still going to reach a higher level because the more positive results we get, the more confidence they will have.
“I am happy that our players have the confidence to fight until the end. It comes from training and preparation. They feel that they are ready in all aspects to be a force in the country.”
Celtic sit in fourth place after nine matches, two points behind log leaders Baroka FC but have a game in hand.
After 11 games in all competitions, Phunya Sele Sele are just three goals away from matching the 16 goals they scored in the league last season which highlights how much they’ve turned things around.
“I didn’t have any pressure from management when I started this job,” Jelusic said.
“Our goal was just to be ambitious and improve from last season by going as far as possible. We will continue with this approach.
“So we are on the right path. I am excited that we are one match away from the final. But before we can start thinking about the final, we have a difficult match against Polokwane.”