This week we put Polokwane City coach Julio Leal, the vastly experienced and well-travelled Brazilian-born coach, in the hot seat.
Leal, back in South Africa after spending the last couple of years in his homeland of Brazil, is a familiar name in the PSL, having previously coached at AmaZulu, Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates in a lengthy coaching career that extends 32 years back all the way to 1983.
The 64-year-old has worked extensively in his home country, the likes of Brazilian giants Flamengo and Vasco da Gama featuring on his CV. Other stops on Leal’s footballing travels include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Tanzania and Japan.
Brought in to replace Kosta Papic at Polokwane City, the South American explains to the official PSL media, how he is relishing the opportunity to once again be coaching in the Absa Premiership and opens up to us about his life as a football coach.
PSL: Welcome back to South Africa coach! How did the move come about, and what is your assessment of the job that awaits you?
Julio Leal: I have been back in Brazil since leaving Pirates in 2012. I haven’t been working as my wife passed away a year and a half ago and there were a lot of things that needed to be sorted out. I was considering options in Africa or Europe, and then just over a month ago I got a call from the Polokwane chairman. I liked what I he head to say, his vision and plans for the club, and so for me it was a great opportunity to get back on to the field.
I’m happy and excited to be here. I have been told about the team’s recent past, their qualities, that the attacking, their offensive instinct is very big.
Don’t get me wrong, I like offensive football. But it’s about being more co-ordinated. What are you doing when there is no ball. How are you winning back the ball. I have not come here to lead, but to exchange knowledge with everybody.
PSL: Football has taken you all over the globe…
Julio Leal: When I chose football as my career many years ago, I couldn’t have imagined how good and successful a decision it turned out to be for me and my family. It’s added so much value to my life. Different places, cultures, different people, friends all over the world. I consider myself a rich man because of this.
Having worked in different countries has also enabled me to broaden my knowledge and to experience other ways of doing things. Japan for example was very different from other countries I have coached in. Their organization and discipline is 100 times better, they are 5000 years ahead.
PSL: Can you share with us please what you see as the core principles of your coaching philosophy?
Julio Leal: In football coaching you need to have a good methodology. Number one is to use the full width of the field. Number two is to do with mobility. Number three is penetration. And fourthly, improvisation.
PSL: Having worked in South Africa before, what kind of impression did our players make on you, and which players stood out for you the most in your previous spells?
Julio Leal: I’ve worked with so many good players in this country. But Shoes Moshoeu, the late Shoes Moshoeu, was the greatest and I was fortunate enough to work with him at AmaZulu. He was a true world class player who made scoring goals look so easy.
At Swallows, I had the pleasure of working with someone like Lefa Tsutsulupa. A real professional athlete, a man of great character, he was a pleasure to work with. Players like Lefa and James Mayinga were very important to me at that time.
At Swallows, I worked with some high quality young players. Players like Rama (Ramahlwe Mphahlele) – now the captain of Mamelodi Sundowns. Sibusiso Khumalo of SuperSport United, Ace Bhengu at SuperSport, Keagan Ritchie. Another one is Lucky Legkwathi. He has great leadership skills, an excellent understanding of the game, and has the mind to be a great coach – I expect him to go on and have a successful career if he wants to.