Meet the new boss, (hopefully not) the same as the old boss
Fully a quarter of the 16 Premier Soccer League teams have changed their managers since Christmas
A flurry of managerial changes in a matter of days after Christmas means a quarter of the 16 Premier Soccer League teams returning to action this weekend will have a new man in charge.
Or, in the case of Bloemfontein, it is actually two – after John Maduka and Lehlohonolo Seema were promoted to replace Steve Komphela in a confirmation of the continuing money woes at a club not keen to add to the wage bill.
Komphela has replaced Clinton Larsen at Lamontville Golden Arrows; Muhsin Ertugral returns to the top flight in charge at Maritzburg United; and Nikola Kavazovic is the latest man in charge at Free State Stars.
Black Leopards, Kaizer Chiefs and Chippa United made changes in the past six weeks as well, meaning the resumption of the league campaign after the brief holiday break will pose numerous questions as well as offer fresh starts.
The biggest question is around Chiefs and whether the new Ernst Middendorp era offers a realistic end to their malaise and a chance to get back among the trophies … or are the three successive wins since the taciturn German took over no more than a false dawn?
Chiefs have yet to concede a goal since sacking Giovanni Solinas, including on an away trip to Madagascar in the African Confederation Cup, but Saturday’s match at home to champions Mamelodi Sundowns is a much tougher test.
Sundowns trail in the title race but have games in hand and there is the sense that the best is still to come from them after they proved unconvincing through the first half of the season.
They have not beaten Chiefs in their last four meetings but come into the game with Pitso Mosimane back from his coaching course in Morocco and fresh from scoring four goals in the Champions League just before Christmas.
Saturday’s clash at Soccer City is the marquee game of the weekend but all the PSL sides are back in action after the briefest of mid-season breaks.
Leaders Wits have had their players back in training since Boxing Day, keen to keep up the three-point advantage they enjoy at the top of the table. They are up against Free State Stars in Bethlehem where the new home coach makes his debut, stepping into the shoes of Luc Eymael.
“This season our main aim is to keep our PSL status. But we will not miss the chance to grab more than that if we get that chance,” said Serbian-born Kavazovic in the buildup to the game.
Stars have fallen hard since Nedbank Cup success, winning just twice in their 17 outings since beating Maritzburg in May’s quarterfinal.
Sunday’s clash at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban between Arrows and Maritzburg marks new chapters in the well-travelled careers of Komphela and Ertugral.
Komphela resigned the Celtic job in frustration but also after four successive defeats while Ertugral continues his journeyman career after recently quitting Ajax Cape Town in the National First Division.
Ertugral had arrived there the same time last year to try and take them off the bottom of the table, which is where he finds his new charges some 12 months on.