The Chippa United head coach’s seat is hotter than many, but Dan Malesela is clearly enjoying the challenge of coaching in the top flight for the first time in his career.
Malesela has three games under his belt in the Absa Premiership, having previously proven his coaching credentials in the Mamelodi Sundowns development ranks as well as at NFD clubs United FC and Cape Town All Stars.
PSL: Three matches, two wins – happy with how things have gone since you took charge, and what is your assessment of the current Chilli Boys squad?
Dan Malesela: I look at is as a great platform for me, for my personal growth. Some people say I should have been here [PSL] long ago. I don’t really think about that, but I appreciate the chance Chippa has given me.
You need to have a well-balanced squad. We need some wingers obviously. I need skillful wingers to complement my game plan. Creative players who can go past people, who can assist and score goals. We’ll look within, but we don’t have too much time for assessment, we may need to go for ‘ready-made’ players. We will also be looking for a couple of central defenders to give us more depth.
PSL: Chippa have drawn only one of 14 games, winning six and losing seven. Are you worried about consistency?
Dan Malesela: Of course we want more consistency in our results. I like to play for a win. But its also about the position on the table. When things are tight, sometimes you need to win so that you can climb above the teams ahead of you. You also have to take into account the clubs below you. When you get to a certain position, a certain number of points, you can think about consolidation, and consider taking a draw in certain matches. But we are not there yet.
PSL: Your first job as a head coach in the PSL. Do you feel added pressures?
Dan Malesela: There is always pressure. Even in the lower leagues. It just gets higher in the PSL. The way I cope with it is, I set myself even bigger goals than people expect. You can’t run away from pressure, rather you must look for solutions. Its all about finding solutions to problems, otherwise you are a useless coach.
You’ll never hear me in media interviews complaining about anything. That’s not how I do it, I look as to how I can solve the problem. If there is an issue in a match, I’m not complaining, I’m thinking about how I can fix it in training the next day.
One needs to have a football brain, to be able to find clever solutions. A coach should also be a designer. I don’t go and read [football] books or go on Google. I will design exercises to suit our game, not routines which do not fit our scope.
I’m not looking to rebuild someone else’s house, but to build my own. And to do that, I start by working on the design.
PSL: You have recently gained the services of a potential match winner in David Zulu. He previously scored prolifically for Black Leopards, and also got goals at Chippa, before his career came to a standstill at Chiefs. How do you get the best out of David again, what will you be saying to him?
Dan Malesela: A coach cannot please everyone. Things like that happen in football. A player has to be comfortable, and sometime that just doesn’t happen for him at a certain team. Maybe the coach thinks he has a better player in that position, I’ve been exposed to it myself as a player.
“I have told David he can do a job for me. I told him I will find him the right place, to suit his game. David must feel confident and comfortable.”