Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is Kaindu's courses Highlanders' demise?

Highlanders Bosso Tshilamoya of Zimbabwe lost a championship by goal difference twice in succession after firing Mohamed Fathi of Egypt and hiring Kelvin Kaindu of Zambia. After the near misses, the former Bosso speedy winger decided to equip himself to go for the jugular and enrolled for the UEFA B License. As a result of his self-empowering courses, the team lost a few friendlies and three pre-season Cups and the club is in shambles and the team in crisis. Crisis? What crisis? Exactly.

This is Highlanders Football Club after all. So, welcome! People judge the coach on a daily basis, game by game. In this particular case, it is unclear if people think Kaindu will be a better or worse coach after his training, but all they know is that they want results from the team he has not had time to prepare. It is also irrelevant if the team wins the championship at the end of the current season. The thing is that the team lost three cup ties in an row before the season began. To understand the situation, Mantengwane fans buy players and select the team. They know how to win the championship. If  a player is off form, he is rubbish. The same player turns hero the next day if he scores the winning goal. The most vocal of KK's critics are his best fans in good times. It is a pity.

The concern of the team being unstable with too much rotation has been raised by an elite few. It makes sense that the technical team should wait for the beginning of the season to see which players fit well in which positions. Conventionally, you expect a team building exercise in real competitive matches and not friendlies. The team should be winning as you make mistakes. And finally we did have some positivity from the analysts of the last loss, that Bosso did not concede a goal in open play.

A sentiment against the excuse that the head coach was in the UK for the UEFA B License was that KK did not take passing and space creation with him to London. There was a general consensus of lack of seriousness and patriotism on the part of the Zambian. "Three Cups played so far in 2014, and we still wish 'it shall be well'. There is certainly something we are not doing right.", lamented one fan, another adding, "I'm actually tired of this 'it shall be well' thing. We need the championship this year".

Of the many comments and cries, it is not clear how many come from those who attend the training sessions. It could be emotional sentiments that have nothing to do with what the coaches see from the players at their disposal at the training grounds. "You have been given all best players and resources to take the league but I am doubting your commitment to the club." The rest of this comment was deeply thought and a grave concern of the way forward was a huge concern to the fan. What I am unsure of, is the truth of the statement. Does Tshilamoya have the best central and wing defenders? Are the midfielders the best in Zimbabwe? Is the strike-force one to reckon with? What about the goalkeepers, training grounds, salaries, bonuses and buses? With all due respect, I do not think it could be so, no matter how one wishes. Yet, KK must deliver with mediocre conditions, situations and circumstances.

My personal humble opinion was that it is still early days, the beginning of the season. KK does courses to coach Bosso better. There is sensationalists who expect the team to win by magic because it is Highlanders and they love and support it. Knowledge is power and as in any profession, nothing beats having the know-how, the education, and experience of course. The gaffer has still plenty to learn. He has the UEFA A and UEFA Pro to attend later in his coaching life. He still needs to know about 'periodization and scheduling', which are full-time courses on their own. The issue is that nobody cares. They want the wins and cups and championships.

If Bosso employed coaches who do not have coach education, they would need to depend on holy water and holy spirit. KK may feel the heat of his abuse concerning the training he undergoes overseas and leave the team. The benefactors would be his next destination, Bosso arch-rivals. The cruelty of the game is that even the unqualified can coach any team to victory. Highlanders can take that chance. I think we should not go there but I was just saying.

Thinking of how the coach can abandon a team in crucial times hurts, but we must understand what goes on in courses of that nature. The candidates have to complete assignments and meet certain deadlines. He's got to supply the information about his planning and execution of the job that he does with his team and hand that over to UEFA or the FA to see if he's on the right track. Any shortcomings found are pointed out and he has to come back and work on his shortfalls and go back again. The courses are very expensive and these organisations, UEFA and the English FA have a reputation to protect and ethics to live by. 

The margins of error in football success are minute and the variables are uncountable. Matches are decided by split seconds, one touch, a turn and a tight quick decision on the part of the players. You can coach all you want, but the options to execute those lie with the players. The coach is trained to identify the negligible details and ingrain that in the players.

Any aspect of football is not trained and mastered in a minute. Repetition is key. That is why players have to be trained from an early age until they retire, and usually the same things. Usually, all people clamour to say the coaches must say ABC. Football coaching is not verbal. It is technique training of repetition of everything over a life-time.

Also, a line-up is not a system as many would have us believe. It is the roles of the people in the line-up that determines the system. The players' form is one thing of concern. One day they are in good mood and play a blinder and then falter the next week. Others run hot and cold in the same match. Then there is the moody type and all. Usually, all of us at the stands do not know or understand these factors or players. There is no instrument to tell that a good player who is off-form is about to run hot or turn cold. You have 11 players to observe and another 5 who could better or worsen what you are dealing with. There is the 11 players of the opposition and their subs to take into account. That is football.

All coaches depend on those situations, how they turn out, to feed their families. A loss does not do any CV any favours. Factoring all that in, the coach with all his certificates, still has his error in judgement as an ingredient to that concoction. For football fans, the ball must go between the posts. If not, the coach is rubbish and when it does, the players are good.

Of the many other positives drawn from that last loss, there were still causes for concern as some found 'genuine reasons to ring alarm bells'. This was based on the team's lack of cohesion. The fan pointed out that all the pre-season hype had turned into agony for the fans. I think that opinion was far-fetched when it was extrapolated to Bosso 'fighting to stay out of the bottom three in this coming season'. This was in sharp contrast to; "I think it is good that we see the weaknesses now and hopefully they will be rectified as the season progresses. I still believe the team will gel and do the business where it matters most, especially towards the business end of the season."

Another sober thought was; "We have to support Kelvin Kaindu at all cost and expect him to plough back to our team. Barry Daka went to Brazil and Barretto to USA for their coaching advancement and they came back and won things for us and produced more coaches". The varied opinions can not all be correct. They just prove that one man's football is another man's folly. Football is an easy game and we all fight to complicate it.

Is it better for KK to go to the UK for his badges and the team sinks, or that the team sinks without his trips?