Coach Vasili Manousakis gives his Richards Bay midway assessment, as the Natal Rich Boys are positioned nicely as the second best team in the DStv Premiership so far.
The former AmaZulu assistant coach joined Richards Bay after he was surprisingly let go by Brandon Truter in the off-season, along with goalkeeper coach, the legendary Moeneeb Josephs.
“I am very pleased by how things have gone so far, of course it could’ve been very different,” Vasili Manousakis told ThisIsFootball.Afica.
“It’s not always easy to start in the manner that we have started. If you take the league position out of the equation, it doesn’t surprise me by the way we are playing. We’ve battled and played some excellent football in some matches, had some fortune in other matches but that’s football. I see the energy and commitment in training, the willingness to learn. We have to give the Chairman credit as he assembled a good group of players. They were signed before I came, but when I arrived I had a certain influence with players like Memela and Nyauza, and one or two others.”
The former Cape Town City assistant coach has mentioned that a failed trial at Ajax Cape Town as a junior led to his journey towards investing time and education in becoming a football coach. When he accepted the job at Richards Bay, he admits that it was a bit of a risk, but stories like his friend Benni McCarthy going to coach at Manchester United helped motivate him even more.
“It’s a combination of the work that the Chairman did behind the scenes to secure the players nice and early, and the work coach Pitso Dlala and coach Ronnie Gabriel did to get the team promoted. So there was already a good base of “beast” mentality. There was also a lot of change because there’s a difference between the first division and Premiership, it’s miles apart. Changing the mindset, that credit has to go to the players for taking this big change on board. We changed the training schedule, the content of the training, the recovery sessions, gym sessions, video analysis, they didn’t do anything like that last season. But to be fair whatever they did worked for them, because they got promoted.”
Richards Bay as a region is known for exporting large amounts of coal, the biggest in the world, but the importing of players by Jomo Biyela, for example Siyanda Msani, who have gone on to represent the national team, has played a major role in their success this season to date.
“We are also not naive, because we know some bumpy times are coming, we know the second half of the season is very tough in the PSL. Teams go out, they reinforce, they spend money, they already have experienced PSL players who know how to turn it on in the second half of the season. So for us, collecting as many points as we could in the first half of the season was so important. The goal does not change, we have to keep our status in the top flight, and that’s what the Chairman wants.”