JOHANNESBURG – Black Leopards’ coach Dylan Kerr is banking on his players to prove that the five-match unbeaten run that introduced him to the PSL masses was not a false alarm.
After taking over the hot seat from Joel Masutha in December, Kerr had a blissful start to his PSL career as he led Leopards to 11 points out of 15. As a result, his efforts were rewarded as he bagged the Coach of The Month for the period of December/January.
But many who believe in deities normally say the monthly awards can either bring a hoodoo to the club or a lucky charm.
So far, that seemed to be a bogey for Kerr as he went on to lead his team to only two points in his next run of five matches. With Lidoda Duvha just a point clear of relegation/promotion play-off candidates Free State Stars, the English-born coach faces a worsening tenure as four of their next seven opponents are gunning for league honours.
Tomorrow, they’ll face pacesetters Pirates at Orlando, they’ll then travel to Bidvest Wits on April 24, while they’ll welcome Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City at Thohoyandou Stadium on May 1 and 11 respectively.
“The results didn’t go our way and that brought Chippa (United), AmaZulu and Baroka FC back into contention (to save their top-flight football status),” Kerr said after suffering a 3-1 loss to Polokwane City on Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough for our next fixtures. But I’ve got to trust my players because we’ve worked so hard to be in this position (12th), so to blow it now would be unjust to the guys.”
Kerr and his troops find themselves in a dire situation - if it’s not title contenders in their radar, it’s fellow relegation candidates. In two of their last remaining matches, they’ll also tackle bottom of the log side Maritzburg United on Freedom Day before playing the penultimate round of their campaign against AmaZulu.
There’s also been a contrast of returns from Leopards' players. Striker Mwape Musonda is currently leading the league’s scoring charts with 13 goals but Leopards’ defence has undone the better part of his work as they’ve failed to win a single game in the last five.
Having got his team’s consolation against City, Musonda will be hoping to dent Pirates’ title hopes tomorrow, especially after they threw him to the wolves almost three seasons ago.
On the other hand, Kerr believes that the players should stick their game-plan.
“Against Orlando Pirates, we can’t have players missing like they did against City,” Kerr said. “We can’t give the ball away against Pirates because they’ll punish us.
"The players showed so much character leading up to the game. (But) sometimes maybe the expectations were a bit too high.
“We had a good game but what was disappointing is that we had worked on it last week, just didn’t happen.”@Mihlalibaleka