There is a saying that brilliant players rarely become good coaches after hanging up their boots.
Remember Diego Maradona who was appointed head coach for the Argentina national team and failed dismally at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
The list is endless if you can think of the likes of Doctor Khumalo and Mark Fish (South Africa), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia) Bryan Robson (England) and Roy Keane from the Republic of Ireland.
Locally, most of the talented players during their time, like Scara Kebalepile, Moshe Dipatane, Itumeleng Duiker and Fabian Zulu, have failed to make it through to the top of their coaching careers.
A number of reasons have been given for not making it to the top yet they showed interest at some stage.
There is another retired star of Botswana football who, until recently, has been working as an assistant coach at BDF XI. Some have tipped him to achieve great things as a coach and he has been given that opportunity. Those who have seen him play during his time will tell you that he was a marvel to watch.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ supporters used to idolise him even when he crossed to the army side in 1994. Chiefs’ supporters would tell you that Nelson ‘Sarafina’ Setshwane was the heart and soul of the team and would get them a goal from nothing.
At BDF XI, he formed a deadly combination with Gary Mkhandawire in the midfield that was hard to contain on its day. It is at the army side where he won almost all of his medals.
After seven years of working as an assistant to established coaches like Stanley Tshosane, Stanley Mwaanga and Sikalame Keatlholetswe, BDF XI last week announced that Setshwane has been elevated to the position of head coach, replacing Keatlholetswe.
The move came as a shock as most people believed that in a short time last season, Keatlholetswe turned BDF XI into a competitive side thus ensuring that they finish in a respectable fifth position. Some argue that though he has been an assistant for some time, the Mochudi-born coach is not ready for the hot seat. But Matebele management maintain that Setshwane is the right man to steer their ship this coming season and hopefully win them the league title.
Some within the army barracks claim that he should have long been given a chance as he has potential. BDF XI’s move has excited some critics who have been pushing for local clubs to employ our ‘own products’.
When Sunday Standard caught up with Setshwane on Friday morning, Setshwane was not amused by people’s response to his appointment. ┬áSetshwane believes that you have to take up the head coach post when you feel you are ready not because people want you to.
“If you look at Stan (Tshosane, Zebras coach), he was an assistant coach for a very long time at teams like Mogoditshane Fighters, Gabane United, BDF XI and now he’s the head coach of our national team and has taken us to the African Cup of Nations. I wanted to learn from the best coaches so that if I step up, I would be ready for the challenge,” he said.
Setshwane knows that there are lots of expectations that come with his appointment but he hinted that he might need time to put the team together.
When BDF XI appointed him, he was mandated with winning the championship, something which he believes is possible.
“If I get the necessary support, anything is possible in the game of football. But I would not like to put myself under unnecessary pressure and say I’ll win it,” he continued.
During the previous season, they were reports that some ‘senior’ players at the club do not want Keatlholetswe and even pleaded with the management to fire him. This was because Keatlholetswe is a firm believer in discipline hence some were uncomfortable with him.
It came as no surprise when he was shown the door. Now the question is, since Keatlholetswe’s position was decided by players’ power, how is Setshwane going to deal with it?
The army major is not moved by that having seen the attitude of some players towards Keatlholetswe last season. He told Sunday Standard that he is not ready to compromise anything when it comes to players’ discipline. “I’ve worked under Six (Keatlholetswe) and Stan (Tshosane) and believe you me, I’ll follow in their footsteps (as disciplinarians). I liked the way Keatlholetswe controlled his dressing room and it worked for us. I’m not going to let players control me because that’s what the two coaches taught me,” he said. ┬á
Setshwane added that when he was a player, he respected every coach he played under hence he became one of Botswana’s football darlings. After being appointed vice-captain at an early age at Chiefs, Setshwane went on to captain BDF XI for almost 10 years. He also played for the national team and played a pivotal role.
Having been a multi-talented midfielder who could create a goal from nothing, Setshwane would like to see his team expressing itself well in the coming season. But he knows that finding a creative midfielder of his mould is not child’s play.
“In any team, sometimes you need an individual brilliance to win games that is why I’ve always been a great admirer of Dirang (Moloi); before him there was Abedi (Ntshingane) and Barnes (Maplanka),” he added.
Last season, BDF XI had some difficulty in scoring and Setshwane said that they are trying to address the issue. Matebele were one of the wasteful sides in front of goal last season only managing to find the net 43 times. This was poor, considering that Nico United and Uniao Flamengo Santos, who were occupying sixth and seventh spots, scored 53 times.
“We failed to find right combinations last season and we relied heavily on Jones (Kwape) who is not an outright striker. If we manage to address it (scoring), I fancy we’ll be up to the challenge,” he concluded. ┬á
Whether Setshwane succeeds at BDF XI, only time will tell but like some football commentators said, if he manages to control the team his work will be half done.