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Still In Touch...The Best Of

Still In Touch With Dynamos' Jacob Sakala

Soccer Laduma’s ‘In Touch’ & ‘Still In Touch’ feature has been a fan favourite for almost two decades in Soccer Laduma’s weekly newspaper. 

Millions of readers turn to it first each week to read the crazy stories that Mzansi’s former players tell and to see current soccer stars dish the dirt on their teammates and coaches. 

Over the years, together with our readers, we have laughed uncontrollably and gasped with disbelief at stories that have never been told before!

Due to the incredible success and reading pleasure over the years and the timeless nature of this incredible content, Soccer Laduma has dug through the archives to bring back to life some of the gems you may have missed, or simply want to re-read and share with your friends. 

Coach, who are some of the funny players you’ve coached?

Edward Motale, Thabang Lebese, Joel Seroba, Frank Makua and Merikani Mpangi. Jerry Sikhosana always came up with stories! I knew he was ageing and sometimes I wouldn’t play him, but I wouldn’t tell him since it would disturb his focus. At training he would keep on saying, “I want to score goals this week.” Come match day, I would tell him to sit closer to me and watch the mistakes of the other strikers. He would ask, “So when am I coming in?” I would then say, “Hang on, I’ll tell you.” I wouldn’t put him in and he would complain after the game, then I’d tell him, “But we won!” Immediately when I joined Dynamos, I wanted to retire Rodney Thobejane. I called the players and told them I had good news for them. I said to Rodney, “You’re now an assistant coach. I’ve been with you all the way. This is the only way you can keep your job as you are married and have kids.” He still wanted to play but I gave him no choice.

Sure.

This one time at Dynamos they had a squad of about 34 players who were all very good. Everyone wanted to know why they weren’t playing. I used to call them one by one, so I once told Chippa (Soul Mmethi), “Chippa, I’m building this team around you. Be focused for the next game.” I then told his competitor David Mathebula, “Last week I played Chippa and now you’re going to have your chance.” They would both be working their socks off while I knew I was only going to use David. For example, on match day I would say, “Guys, I love you all. There are new rules from Fifa which will allow 22 players to play at the same time and the rule is going to be approved in two weeks’ time. We’re still waiting, give me two weeks. For now the team will keep changing.” I could hear them moaning! Also, I once found Timothy ‘RBT’ Nkosi holding a knife in his hand and crying like a baby. I asked Ntsie Maphike what was happening and he told me Nkosi wanted to stab Soul Mmethi for sleeping with his girlfriend in camp. Mmethi had run off to a house nearby, surrounded by long grass. Jacky Ledwaba gave him a call and told him not to come out since Nkosi was hungry for his blood. I heard Mmethi’s voice when he was speaking to Jacky and I then said, “Hey, I hear a voice there. There must be a ghost there!” (Laughing) Thomas Ledingwane went out to look and Soul sprang up! Those two ran after each other and it took three hours to control the situation.

Ha, ha, ha, that’s soccer players for you!

Arthur Zwane was another character! He had retired from the game and I convinced him to come back. One time we were driving to a game in Witbank. He had a runny stomach and went out to the bush to answer the call of nature. When he came back, he was only wearing underpants and had left his clothes behind and I thought he was going mad. I asked him, “What’s this, Arthur? Where are your clothes and shoes?” He said, “I’m protesting about the late salaries. I’m tired of playing and not being paid. I’m very frustrated.” I said to the other players in the car, “Gentlemen, don’t worry. Arthur has been fined two bottles of Coke for misbehaviour which he will have to fork out on Monday before training.” There was also Mpangi at Ria Stars, who would want to quit training if he had not been paid. While we were stretching, he would tell me in broken English, “Coach, me I’m going for home.” I’d ask him, “But why?” He’d say, “Me not to eat. Every time to train, to train, to train, from here to stay hunger.” I told him to go and see the chairman Dlamini Makhafula. He went there and found Makhafula’s children eating bread, polony, eggs and cake. He told them, “Your father doesn’t pay us, he’s eating the money” and went to the fridge and ate all the food there, ha, ha, ha. When the chairman asked him about it, he answered, “Yes, I ate your food because I was hungry!”

Crazy, crazy, crazy!

Sello ‘Chicco’ Twala at Ria Stars once told me who to put in my starting lineup. He was managing the affairs of the late Brenda Fassie and I told him, “Chicco, I’ve been to your studio several times and I’ve seen you recording ‘Vulindlela’ and ‘Nomakanjani’ but I’ve never told you to play a bit of bass here or a bit of rhythm there. I just told you those songs are going to be a hit and people are going to enjoy them. Why don’t you tell me this is going to be the team of the week rather than dictate to me?”

Ha, ha, ha. Tell us more.

I can tell you that my most embarrassing moment was when I coached Black Leopards. They had hired Jean-Yves Kerjean, without telling me, and he was watching our last game of the season. The team survived, but they said I should re-apply for the job for next season. As I was on my way home from the stadium driving the club’s car, I was arrested by the police on a charge of stealing the club’s car and was kept in the Thohoyandou police station for two days. The club’s director didn’t want to tell me they had hired another coach and the only way to get their property back was by sending the police to take the car and arrest me!

 

IN TOUCH FUN FACTS:

Nickname: Cellular

Car: Hyundai

Marital status: Married

Favourite food: Uphuthu with sour milk

Favourite TV show: Emzini Wezinsizwa

Cool drink or alcohol: Cool drink

Siyagobhoza or interviews: Siyagobhoza

Favourite celebrity: Robert Marawa

Rich or poor: Average

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