Davids appointment looks a masterstroke

Fadlu Davids. (Steve Haag/BackpagePix)

Fadlu Davids. (Steve Haag/BackpagePix)

Fadlu Davids’ remarkable season so far with Maritzburg United gives credence to the belief that more and more young coaches deserve a chance in South African football.

Davids has guided United to third place in the Absa Premiership and the Nedbank Cup semifinals, a remarkable achievement, especially for a man who was only given the job after some pause-for-thought by chairman Farouk Kadodia.

Kadodia, it must be remembered, had a chance to give Davids the job permanently in November 2016, after Ernst Middendorp had quit, but instead took the fairly disastrous decision to give the head coach’s position to Roger de Sa. Still, Kadodia has now been rewarded for his bravery in giving Davids a chance, as a young, vibrant side has powered up the league table, and now gone on an excellent run in the cup.

Siphesihle Ndlovu has to be the prime candidate for Young Player-of-the-Season, while Davids himself must be in line for the Coach-of-the-Season award, even if he does not end up with a trophy. It is interesting how he has managed to get the best out of a player who was regarded as surplus to requirements by Steve Komphela at Kaizer Chiefs. Siyanda Xulu endured a frustrating time at Amakhosi, but has thrived under Davids, and is now at the heart of one of the best defences in the country.

Few sides, too, would have been able to negotiate the departure of top striker Evans Rusike in January as seamlessly as United have. Andrea Fileccia, however, has come in and started banging in the goals with similar regularity – the Belgian is a deserved nomination for Phakaaathi’s Player-of-the-Month Award. Don’t forget to read Page 10 and vote for your chance to win R350 in airtime.

Free State Stars are another side exceeding expectations this season under the wise hand of Luc Eymael. We speak to their midfield dynamo Nhlanhla Vilakazi in our regular One-on-One feature. While most will expect a Chiefs-Sundowns Nedbank Cup final, following the draw for the last four, it would be a fascinating battle of the underdogs if Stars and United were to meet instead in the Cape Town showpiece event.

The Nedbank Cup at least still represents a chance for Komphela to pick up some silverware, in what looks almost certain to be his last season at Chiefs, even if he does deliver after well over two-and-a-half barren campaigns. Komphela, to my mind, should really be focusing his efforts on the cup, but he is still determined to pursue the league, however absurd his side’s chances seem, as evidenced on the opposite page.

For some gossip on who might replace Komphela next season, meanwhile, take a look at our Mgosi section on Pages 4 and 5.

Elsewhere, a thrilling Absa Premiership title showdown is building between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates (and even maybe Maritzburg United). We have all the latest in the build-up to the midweek matches, including something of a goalkeeping crisis in the ranks of the Buccaneers.

And we also have the latest news from the National First Division, as Highlands Park may as well uncork the bubbly and start celebrating their promotion to the Absa Premiership, however cautious Owen da Gama is being.

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