Them’s fighting words ... New AmaZulu coach Pablo Franco Martin won’t back down

Pablo Franco Martin, coach of Simba during the CAF Confederation Cup 2021/22 quarterfinal match between Orlando Pirates and Simba at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg

File. The Spanish-born coach Pablo Franco Martin touched down at the King Shaka International Airport on Thursday evening ahead of his new role as coach of AmaZulu. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jul 1, 2023


Pablo Franco Martin is excited to take on what he feels is the ‘right project’ at new club AmaZulu.

The Spanish-born coach touched down at the King Shaka International Airport for the first time on Thursday evening, and was welcomed by expectant Usuthu supporters and the club’s management.

Club president Sandile Zungu introduced him to all present, before bestowing him with his isiZulu name ‘Cijimpi’ (Brave Warrior).

“I feel really happy and very excited..I’m coming here with a lot of expectations, I feel this is the right project for me for the upcoming seasons,” Martin said.

The 43-year-old mentor has not managed in over a year since departing Tanzanian giant Simba at the end of the 2021/2022 campaign.

Martin brings a wealth of experience at the highest level having been an assistant coach at Real Madrid in both the tenures at Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.

Speculation around the next head coach at AmaZulu had received huge attention in the off-season, considering how close they came to being relegated.

Usuthu concluded their season in an unimpressive 12th spot on the DStv Premiership log, just three points above the relegation zone.

The club have seen coaches Brandon Truter, Romain Folz and Ayanda Dlamini take a crack at guiding the club but all failing to meet their requirements of management and later dismissed.

When quizzed about the pressure of coming into an environment that has seen three coaches fired in the last two years, Martin was quick to embrace the opportunity handed to him.

“I would like this question to be asked in the future because for me football is not about pressure, but football is my life.

“Football is something that we love, coaching the players. We are coaching because of the fans, we want to have fun. I understand in my profession you are under pressure, but pressure is for people who cannot eat some days, for people who are fighting at work and that is really pressure.

“For us, we are here to do our best daily, and when someone is not like that it changes everything.”

Martin will immediately work on his plans for the upcoming season alongside Siboniso ‘Nini’ Vilakazi who was appointed as his second in command.

The much-travelled mentor is also expected to reconfigure the club’s playing personnel with the likes of Celimpilo Ngema and Victor Letsoalo already confirmed as new signings.


IOL Sport