Njabulo Ngidi
2 minute read
5 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Barker waves his magic wand

Njabulo Ngidi

Clive Barker has worked his magic at Mpumalanga Black Aces, transforming the Absa Premiership rookies into an exciting bunch ready to muscle their way in the top eight.

Looking forward to Christmas - Clive Barker. Pic: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

The 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning coach with Bafana Bafana, has done all of that with a team that is 95% new after AmaZayoni were busy in the transfer window.
Barker might be the magician, but midfielder Themba Zwane has been the catalyst for Aces, who are unbeaten in their last six league matches.

Zwane was rested in the 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates on Wednesday with Barker looking to unleash him this afternoon at 3pm against Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium.

“I took a calculated risk leaving him out against Pirates so that we can get the maximum from him against Wits,” Barker said.

“It worked out because we got three points. There is no doubt about it – he is the find of the season. To build Bafana Bafana around him, I think that would be a great start.

“He is the most exciting player I have seen, since the Sugar Ray Xulu and Jomo Sono era. I would think he is close to Doctor Khumalo. He is a terrific player.”

Four points separate Wits, in third place, with Aces, who are two places below them even though the Clever Boys have two games in hand. Barker started his magic show at Wits last season when he transformed the team to eventually finish in the top four. He wanted to stay on but Wits opted for Gavin Hunt.

With Zwane back, Barker will be looking to show the Clever Boys what they missed out on.

In his Aces squad there are a number of players who are on loan from Wits and other teams. Under the experienced mentor they have found new life, which is why he is looking to keep most of them next season.

“It’s a crazy situation,” Barker said.

“It shouldn’t be like that. I just hope we can retain most of the players we have on loan. They pass the ball better than anyone in the country. I know it’s easy to say that when the team is winning, but I think this team has been a revelation.”