JOHANNESBURG – Dan Malesela's time away from football helped the Chippa United coach grow and return with a key arsenal in his armour that wasn’t there in his first spell with the Chilli Boys.
Malesela spent eight months unemployed after Chippa fired him in September last year. The trigger-happy owner of the club, Chippa Mpengesi, re-appointed the former School of Excellence coach in May to the post he held for more than a year - making him Chippa’s longest serving coach.
The Chilli Boys played enterprising football under Malesela but they struggled to consistently score and beat the opponents they outplayed. That has seen the 53-year-old rethink how he manages the Chilli Boys, bringing wingers who actually cross the ball which his team didn’t do much as they instead wanted to walk the ball into the back of the net.
“I have decided not to cut out certain aspects of the game that can help us, that’s why we have signed players who wouldn’t normally be in a team I coach,” Malesela said.
“If we don’t do that, then we become one dimensional and predictable. I want us to have diversity in terms of our attack. My time away from football has helped me a lot. It was very frustrating but also educational.
I asked myself questions when I saw other teams playing that what did I do wrong? I had time to reflect and think about new things that I want to put into the game.”
Malesela is honest about his shortcomings from his first stint and what he will do differently to not fall into the trap of focusing too much on possession while ignoring the end result of that possession.
“The one aspect of our game that we are working on improving is scoring,” Malesela said. “We must create as many chances as possible but also score goals. I never really gave serious, serious attention to goal scoring. It was something that I would occasionally do.
I have also done a lot of planning in terms of how then do you create those chances. How do you score goals? You can say that we need to practice that but there are tough defences that need to be dismantled. We’re going to work a lot around that.”
Football fans will see the new-look Chippa under Malesela on Sunday in their clash with Bloemfontein Celtic at Dr Molemela Stadium.
Malesela might be open to changing certain aspects of his game but there are things that he will not compromise on - especially playing beautiful football.
“I like identity,” Malesela said. “Obviously when you knock at my door I need to know who you are so that I can open for you. It’s the same with football. When we play here, people need to see that this is Dan Malesela’s team. You shouldn’t even doubt or second guess it.
I don’t want people to come to our match and not figure out what was happening. Sometimes you go to matches, and with all due respect to other people, you ask yourself what was happening? But the score was 3-0. You look at the content of the match and ask yourself, zishaphi la (what’s happening here)?
“I am hoping that this team becomes consistent and we don’t lose players as often as we do.”