DURBAN – Former Orlando Pirates skipper Thabo Mngomeni believes chairman Irvin Khoza erred in reappointing Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic as the club’s coach.
Khoza brought back the Serbian coach to steer the Buccaneers’ ship after the resignation of Swede Kjell Jonevret just six months into the job.
Sredojevic coached Pirates for about seven months back in 2006 and took them to the Caf Champions League semifinal.
But Mngomeni, a star for the Buccaneers in the early 2000s believes the Iron Duke could have done better.
“Another foreign coach, again!” he lamented. “When are we going to get opportunities? I’m not saying they must hire Thabo, but there’s a lot of Pirates legends who are doing Caf and Safa licence coaching course.
“When are they going to be given the responsibility if these foreign coaches keep on coming here, leaving and then coming back while we are ignored? It’s not that I have a problem with foreign coaches, but we also need to be given opportunities to grow,” Mngomeni explained.
Before Jonevret joined them midway through last season, Pirates had the well-travelled Turkish coach Muhsin Ertugral in charge, only for him to resign on television following a 6-1 drubbing by SuperSport United.
Augusto Palacios held the reins in the interim before Khoza unveiled Jonevret.
Since the advent of the Premier Soccer League in 1996, Pirates have had four South Africans – Gordon Igesund, Owen da Gama, Roger de Sa and Eric Tinkler – take charge of the team, while no less than 12 foreigners have held the reins.
Meanwhile Mngomeni, who spent four seasons and the club and won the league title under Igesund, has challenged the players to up their game.
“These boys must deliver. They need to realise that Pirates is a big brand,” he said while lamenting the fact the club has not won silverware for three seasons as an embarrassment.
Having previously captained the club, who does Mngomeni think should replace Oupa Manyisa – on his way to Mamelodi Sundowns, according to Khoza –as skipper?
“I’m at a distance, so I don’t know the players’ personalities. But they need to choose a person who has influence. Orlando Pirates must be able to come up with plan B on the field of play if the coach’s strategy is now working on the day.
“Pirates need a captain who is vocal and who can handle the pressure. At the moment, it is difficult to tell who can fulfil those duties. Last season the team was changed a lot. There was no consistency in the starting line-up.”
He knows, though, what made him the successful captain he was for the Buccaneers.
“What worked for me as a leader was that I understood all of my teammates. I knew how to make them tick.
“And also, I knew everything I did had to be spot on so the others could follow, and they did. And I was also willing to listen to their views regarding what we needed to do as a team.”
How he must wish Khoza would listen to his view regarding who he picks to coach the club.