JOHANNESBURG – Kgoloko Thobejane was at it again. This time though it wasn’t with the same bravado that endeared him to the local soccer public at the beginning of last season.
But he said it alright!
“We want to win everything we play for. That’s why we play.”
Having just led his club to retaining their Absa Premiership status via the play-off route, the coach of Baroka FC was back to his eloquent self.
His voice hoarse from an afternoon of shouting instructions and later singing in celebration, Thobejane spoke in a whisper as he anticipated yet another season in the elite league.
A 1-1 draw with Black Leopards was enough to see his side win the three-team (Stellenbosch FC was the other) promotional play-offs by eight points after they finished second last in their maiden Premiership season.
“This one was not our season. We just couldn’t score,” he said.
Logic would dictate then that, ahead of the next campaign, Thobejane would impress on his bosses to allow him to sharpen his strikeforce with new additions of renowned finishers.
Incredibly, he said there’s no need to change anything.
“We will stay as Baroka. We will play the kind of football we’ve always played.”
And what about adding new players, coach?
“I am just a coach. It is up to the management to decide if we want new players. As for me, I believe in getting 11 players on to the field. It does not matter which they are, as long as I can have 11 players I will get them to play.”
It was perhaps his naivety, or is it simplicity, that saw him come up short in the previous edition of the Premiership – Thobejane actually being put out to pasture by club boss Khurishi Mphahelele midway through the season as the club struggled to cope.
He had approached the Premiership almost as a Sunday morning park kick-about, often seeming to send his players on to the field with what appeared to be a simple instruction to “go at them, boys”.
Without a clear plan as to what they must do once they have their opposition pinned down, Baroka often resembled a bird without a song – their attacking football failing to yield goals.
It proved costly against organised teams and many a matches that could have seen Baroka bag three points ended in defeat.
They awoke somewhat late in the season to avoid automatic relegation and then went on to keep their Premiership status with success in the play-off – a Mduduzi Mdatsane goal on Saturday enough to see them keep Leopards – for whom captain Siphelele Ntshangase equalised from the penalty spot – at bay.
Whether they have picked up any lessons that will stand them in good stead for their second campaign remains to be seen.
Thobejane claims they have.
“We learn from every match we play” he said, without shedding light on the lessons.
Just as he did last season, he does, however, believe that Baroka will ‘win everything’ on offer in the PSL.