Former AmaZulu assistant coach Vasili Manousakis has worked with many top players and coaches in South Africa. In this interview he explains the huge influence of Siyabonga Nomvethe at Usuthu under the Benni McCarthy era.
Amazulu ended second on the league table behind champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the DStv Premiership season 2020/21. They also managed to get through to the group stages of the highest level of continental football, the CAF Champions League.
“Siyabonga Nomvethe, like goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, had just relatively recently come out of playing. It’s always daunting getting into your first job as a coach, especially if you are not coaching juniors and you just go straight into the high level of the PSL players,” Vasili Manousakis told ThisIsFootball.Africa.
“What made Bhele’s transition so smooth is that, like Benni he also played in the top leagues in Europe. At home he is a legend and played for the national team. His thinking and approach to the game was like Benni’s, as well as Moeneeb Josephs. In reality they were legends, so the thinking was the same for all three of them. That’s why Benni selected them, then of course they could lean on us in terms of what I had to do, what I should do. To give credit to Bhele, he adapted very well, the players liked him, he was prominent in the dressing room. On the pitch, he is organised and always ready to take a group. Whether it was finishing drills or any other drills, he was always willing to do what was needed.”
Siyabonga Nomvethe’s first introduction in the football sphere was with the wonderfully entertaining African Wanderers team of the 90’s. He went on to represent the national team Bafana Bafana, with stints at Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, he played in the Serie A with Udinese, he had a spell in Scandinavia at Aalborg, before returning home to Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu.
“Furthermore, he also went down to the MDC and spent some time there watching the coaches and showing his willingness to learn,“ continued Manousakis, the current Richards Bay co-coach. “He was trying to see what they were doing with the youngsters. He would then roll up his sleeves and get involved with them. Bhele goes the extra mile, he worked extra hard so that he could fit in, so that he could be aware of what is needed to be done as a coach. I was very impressed with him, and he has got a fantastic character. The players like him, and once you’ve got that you have got a good chance of succeeding.”