NFD Focus: David Thidiela
In this week's edition of Soccer Laduma, issue number 875, Black Leopards' executive chairman, David Thidiela, talks to Soccer Laduma’s Peter Raath about his team's failure in the play-offs.
He also praises ex-coach Kosta Papic and talks about a new team slogan - with the NFD Focus brought to you by Lucky Star.
Despite Black Leopards' dominance in the final PSL promotion/relegation play-off match against rivals, Polokwane City, Lidoda Duvha were unlucky not to have walked away with the three points and gain promotion, with Thidiela very touched things did not go their way on the day.
"Yes, we’re not lucky with the play-offs. Everybody was frustrated. It was heart-breaking. It’s so unfortunate to you lose against a team like that. We dominated play in the second half and were all over them. There was just one side on the pitch, but it happens in football. God knew the end result. This happened for a reason, but all credit must goes to Kosta Papic. Ever since I started in football I’ve never worked with such a coach. He’s so manageable. We normally say it takes three to four years to build a competitive team, " he said.
Thidiela went on to praise Papic's amazing work by recruiting youngsters following the club's decision to release most of the players when the Serbian took over.
He told Soccer Laduma, “I sign according to their technical ability, try to implement them into a system, but the main thing is they must have the right mentality. Don’t forget that most of our players he groomed were inexperienced U23s from the Second Division or SAB League. He took all the youngsters from the rural Limpopo areas then said to me, “Give me the first ten games after which time you’ll see results.” Inside me, I was just weighing up what would happen, but the team soon showed promise by playing a great attacking kind of football. I’ve been in SA football for a long time, but for a coach like him to take these small boys and mould them in such a short time proves that there is no need to wait three or four years to build a team, " Thidiela added.
Asked about the untimely departure of coach Kosta Papic to join Chippa United as well as their top striker, the chairman said: "That definitely goes without saying. Zulu, whose absence during the play-offs hurt us, was here for some time, but look how the coach helped him. We approached the player in October or November, gave him a new contract to sign but unfortunately he didn’t come back to us. Regarding Papic, I was hoping that God would keep him and me together forever and ever more. I had no idea that he was leaving. I’m telling you the gospel truth."
"Let me not talk now when I’m so emotional, but I smelled a rat. I heard a rumour about two months ago and I suspected something was going on, but the coach denied it. He said, “No, no, no. There’s no such thing.” I’m very upset, just like I was after losing to Polokwane City. He was too good and knew what he was doing. He and I worked hand-in-hand. He also ran the team independently. He did what he wanted to do and worked well with his assistant, Joel Masutha, "he further added.
The chairman went on to say that the club have a few things in the pipeline ahead of next season.
"We want to win automatic promotion like Chippa United so I’m changing the slogan to Loswika Duvha, which in Venda means, “The Day Has Finally Arrived”. We’re also looking at moving back to Thohoyandou Stadium where, over ten years ago, the side played under Gavin Hunt. He was still a youngster then but he won the Coach of the Year Award in 2001/02. My team and most of our supporters come from Venda. You saw how full the Giyani Stadium was when we played Polokwane City. The people there welcomed us after driving all that way. The local municipality is busy upgrading Thohoyandou, which was in a bad condition, so moving from one district to another is over now. The head office will remain in Polokwane."
David Thidiela concluded by saying, "I support doing away with the play-offs and replacing the play-offs with a system where two PSL teams go down and two from the NFD come up. I think it’s a good thing, but I don’t want to talk about NFD referees… you go and watch games. I’m also not prepared to discuss an increase in our monthly grant, although it’s costly travelling so often to the coast."
To read Thidiela's full interview, check out edition 875 of Soccer Laduma on shelves now, page 22, with the NFD Focus brought to you by Lucky Star.