PSL players lack warrior spirit, says sacked coach Vlad
SOUTH African footballers are not warriors, says Vladimir Vermezovic.
The Serb, who was fired by Kaizer Chiefs last month, suggested local players were mentally fragile. "A few jeers from the fans when the going gets tough and some of them lose their confidence far too easily," he said.
"Their mentality is somewhat different to players coming from other traditional soccer nations in Africa, such as Cameroon and Nigeria. South African players have an abundance of talent, but many of them are just not the warriors they should be."
Vermezovic conceded some South Africans performed well in Europe.
"Steven Pienaar, Lucas Radebe and Benni McCarthy had successful careers in Europe," he said. "There is never any doubt about the exceptional talent and ability of South African players, but it seems they only flourish if they go abroad very young because the bar is much higher in Europe."
Vermezovic is back with Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade for a second spell in charge. He steered them to the 2005 league title and helped them reach the last 16 in the Champions League.
He said he learnt important lessons in his three years with Chiefs, which he described as a "tremendous experience", but lamented that Serbian clubs could not afford to sign top players from the PSL.
"Players at big clubs such as Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United and Ajax Cape Town are anything but cheap, even by world standards," he said.
"They are a lot more expensive than players coming from other African countries.
"Club owners in South Africa are wealthy. Siphiwe Tshabalala and Katlego Mphela are big stars and sought after by international clubs, but Sundowns flatly refused a R2-million offer from a Russian club a while back for Mphela. He wasn't very happy at first, but eventually came to terms with it."
The coach said there was no truth in speculation that Tshabalala could have been transferred to Partizan while a player at Chiefs.
Vermezovic, 48, who briefly coached Slovakian side Spartak Trnava before he took over at Chiefs, was stunned when he was sacked .
"I won two cups with the club and, to be honest, I am a bit baffled why I was fired in the title run-in as we were only six points behind the leaders with a game in hand and also reached the last eight in the cup," he said.
"We were in a good position to challenge for honours but the club decided to part company with me and I had no choice but to accept the decision."