When head coach Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare unexpectedly dumped Extension Gunners for Lobatse rivals BMC in February, many supporters were worried that their side might go through a rough patch while the management looked for a capable replacement.
But it was not the case as Gunners had an able assistant in Nelson Olebile, who acted as trainer in the absence of head coach. The ever-smiling Olebile managed to guide Mapantsula to important victories over Peace Makers in the Coca-Cola Cup Last 32 and Nico United in the league before Maxwell Moyo took over at the beginning of March.
The win over Peace Makers in Bobonong proved crucial as Gunners managed to force their way through to the final against Motlakase, which will be played at the New Lobatse Stadium this coming weekend. And it did not come as a surprise when head coach Moyo pointed out after their semi-final win against Mochudi Centre Chiefs on April 16, that if there is a man who deserves to be credited, it has to be Olebile. This is because he has managed to keep players focused when the management was still sorting out Moyo’s work permit.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Olebile acknowledged the credit. “It is nice when you hear your boss showering you with praises. He’s a fantastic coach to work with and I’m impressed with his level of professionalism. I believe that if we continue working together, I’ll learn a lot.
What is important for me is to know that he (Moyo) is the boss and respect him. I must say that when he arrived, I had my own doubts because he’s a foreigner but he has showed me the opposite.”
When Olebile coached Gaborone Division One side Super Stars, he never thought that one day he would be approached to work at a bigger club like Gunners. It came as a surprise when Nare approached him during the 2008/2009 season.
“Though he (Nare) used to send me to go spy on the opposition for him, I never thought I’ll work alongside him at Gunners. But I believe that there was something he liked about me hence he recruited me. Joining Gunners was a step forward for me and I must say that I’ve learnt a lot over the time,” he said.
Olebile said working with Nare has also opened his eyes and made him understand the pressure of coaching at a higher level. He pointed out that when you are outside, you would think coaching Gunners is easy but it is the opposite.
“There is pressure which goes with being on the Gunners bench. But because of Chicco, I’ve learnt how to deal with it, that is why I have not struggled during the times when he was not available,” he continued.
The Bobonong-born gaffer further praised the players for respecting him though he came in as an unknown to them. He said that to his surprise, the players have been cooperative and carried his instructions to the letter.
On Nare’s departure, Olebile said though he was aware that something of that nature might happen, it was a difficult decision for him to accept.
“It was always going to be difficult considering that Chicco is the one who brought me here. He’s more like a brother to me and I enjoyed working with him. But in life we meet to part and I have to respect his decision of moving on. Fortunately, I have another capable man to work with,” added the 36 year-old coach.
Olebile said that he would like to see himself as a head coach some day, but he is not rushing. He pointed out that age is still on his side and would like to upgrade himself more before thinking about becoming his own boss. He said that for the next four years, he will continue learning and working under some of the finest coaches and he will take it from there.
“I do not like the limelight because I believe in team work. As long as the team is doing well, I’m happy,” he said.
On the Coca-Cola Cup final, Olebile said though most people believe that they are favourites against Motlakase, Mapantsula would give their opponents the respect they deserve. He believes that Motlakase are in the final on merit hence they deserve to be accorded respect. He pointed out that when they played against Chiefs in the semis, his side was considered underdogs but they shocked many people with their spirited performance. “We respect Motlakase but that does not mean we will let them roll over us. It’s been a long time without winning silverware and we need to do it for our supporters who have been with us through the difficult times,” he said. Gunners last tasted Coke glory in 1992 and they have been to two more finals where they lost out.
They have withdrawn their Under-23 left winger Kgololo Leteane from the side which is travelling to Zimbabwe this week for the second leg of the All Africa Games. Leteane played an important role when they humbled Chiefs in the semis. Midfielder Mollen Mabe, who served his last match suspension against BDF XI in a league game on Friday afternoon, will also be available for selection.