In less than three months, the much hyped Mochudi Centre Chiefs head coach head Dragojlo Stanojlovic has seen the thrill of admiration from expectant fans turn to revulsion in a swift fall from hero to zero.
Centre Chiefs dominated the back pages in August when their little known Serbian head coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic landed at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone to take charge of the Kgatleng giants. The Serbian came to Botswana to replace Zimbabwean Madinda Ndlovu who did not renew his contract to join Township Rollers. The move to let Madinda join Rollers considering that he has won two successive league titles shocked the football community. Chiefs’ officials, however, tried to convince followers that Stanojlovic is the best thing ever to happen to Botswana football.
A horde of curious football scribes tried to find out more about the man who was hailed as the great philosopher but it was difficult to pen him down because he could not speak English. This raised questions on how he was going to communicate with players. Chiefs’ officials dismissed queries about the language barrier saying that there are coaches who have been successful around the world yet they did not speak the local language. In his own words, Chiefs’ spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi described Stanojlovic as the best tactician to come to our shores to lead a local club.
He was said to be the man to lead their ship to the shores of victory where they will collect every silverware available in the local scene and in the continent during the Champions League. His arrival excited not only team officials but even supporters who boasted that their side is being drilled by a European coach unlike other sides. In his first day in charge of Magosi, Chiefs lifted the Kabelano Charity Cup beating Extension Gunners 2-0 in the final played at Lobatse Stadium on August 17. While credit was due to assistant coach Innocent Morapedi who had been drilling the team during the pre-season, those close to Chiefs hailed the arrival of the Serbian. This is despite the fact that he had few training sessions with the club in the build-up to the tournament.
Chiefs started the season like house on fire winning their first seven games. But in between, some officials and supporters could be heard murmuring that Chiefs was not playing the attractive football they have come to be known for over the years. There were signs that the Serbians might not last until the end of the season. October 27, Chiefs lost to 2-1 to Township Rollers in a league game played at UB Stadium. It was Chiefs’ first loss to Rollers in three years which did not go down well with the supporters. After the loss, Magosi went on to lose to Gaborone United and BDF XI. Against Uniao Flamengo Santos, Magosi could only manage to salvage a draw. In between the league games, Chiefs lost 3-2 at home to bitter rivals Rollers in the first leg of the Mascom Top 8.
Though management claimed ignorance while the fans were complaining, it seems that Chiefs’ officials have bowed to the pressure and very soon the man commonly known as ‘Drago’ will be packing his bags and heading back to his native country. Reports indicate that former Zebras’ head coach Stanley Tshosane has been targeted to come and revive the ailing Chiefs.
Tshosane has already been interviewed and is awaiting Chiefs’ board of directors’ meeting tomorrow to approve his appointment.
“We have heard that Drago will be relieved of his duties anytime soon. It will be a blessing because most of the players are not happy with his tactics. What make it worse is that he is very aggressive towards the players. When you make a mistake he will shout at you throughout the game which puts a lot of pressure on players. You don’t have time to think for yourself during the game. The language barrier does not help the situation. Overall I think the management erred in bringing him here in the first place,” said one player who did not want to be named on Friday afternoon.
Sources revealed that when the Serbian tactician was brought here, Chiefs’ officials were divided over his appointment. It is said that some officials used their powers to appoint Drago. “I can tell you that I was one of the people against Drago’s appointment. But because some of the officials did not like Madinda they opted for this man who has failed us. The supporters are no longer coming to the stadiums because of the type of football we’re playing under Drago,” said one official.
Contacted for comment Mogomotsi was adamant that they have not parted ways with Drago, “He is still our coach and if there are any changes, we will call a press briefing to notify the media. I must admit that the fact that the coach does not speak English is a challenge but we are working on something,” said Mogomotsi.
Last Tuesday, Chiefs added former Extension Gunners’ head coach Odirile ‘China’ Matlhaku to their technical team as an assistant coach. The same week, Matlhaku was spotted at Dros Restaurant at Molapo Crossing Mall having a meeting with Tshosane. While Chiefs’ officials deny Drago’s sacking hardly three months in Botswana, it will be interesting to see how things unfold this week.