South Africa’s Premier Soccer League media interviewed former Orlando Pirates captain Dan ‘Dance Malasela, who’s now making waves as an NFD coach for Stars.
PSL: It’s been an impressive start to the season and you certainly hit the ground running. Your thoughts on your first couple of months at Stars?
Dan Malesela I don’t want to come across selfish, but the past two games (a 3-0 loss to Milano United and a 0-0 draw with Santos) I was not happy. We should have won both these matches, the chances were there. We have to find a way to break down tight defences, teams are sitting back against us and looking to counter, we have to find ways to overcome this.
PSL: When you arrived at the club, the two top goal scorers from last season, Amigo Memela and Zaid Patel, had moved on to Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits respectively. Was, or is, this a concern to you in terms of your firepower up front?
Dan Malesela: No, not really. Its normal for players to move on, and if a player has a chance to further his career in the PSL, then good for them and we should not try discourage them. I am not a coach who believes in relying on one player, on an individual player or two. What happens if that player is injured or suspended? Then you have a negative physiological effect on the rest of the squad. I would rather have three or four players that are capable of scoring.
PSL: Your teams certainly play some eye-catching football. What is the basis of your coaching philosophy?
Dan Malesela: Sport is supposed to be an entertainment business, and you can’t divorce it from that. So I set my teams up to play attractive football that can make the fans smile. People come to watch football to ease the pressure of their daily lives and I want to make sure that they can go home happy.
PSL: It’s been an interesting start to the NFD, with the likes of Baroka FC and Witbank Spurs leading the way, your side in third spot. Your impressions of the division so far, and how do you see things panning out over the months ahead?
Dan Malesela: There are a lot of clubs pushing at the top at the moment and it shows what a competitive league this is. Things may change in the second round of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see five or six clubs all challenging for promotion and for the play-offs.
PSL: You’ve been in the NFD for a number of years now. Do you believe the league is moving in the right direction in terms of quality and professionalism?
Dan Malesela: Yes I do. On the field, there are a lot of experienced coaches and you can see this from the kind of tactics that are being employed. The standard of play is improving. Off the field one still finds some of the same old things though; the treatment one sometimes gets from opponents at away games, where they are out to make life as uncomfortable as possible. The same old tricks, its something one just has to deal with.
PSL: As a former youth development coach, what do you look for in a young player, and do you think that South African football is doing an adequate job of bringing youngsters through the ranks?
Dan Malesela: I always look at the potential of a player, does he have the potential to play at a high level? The rest is up to me and other coaches, that’s what our jobs are there for. Its not easy though and a potential young player has to show he has the potential to be better than the current players in a squad. A player must have talent, and must be able to improvise. The right attitude is also important. A player does not have to be physically big. Smaller players can get by, there are ways of working around it, with speed, speed of thought and the ability to play ball. I tell such players to try and avoid contact, to let the ball do the work.