Pirates coach Jonevret under scrutiny in Nedbank Cup final
Both coaches will be under some form of scrutiny in Saturday night’s Nedbank Cup final‚ though one would feel that Orlando Pirates Kjell Jonevret was considerably more so.
For SuperSport United’s Stuart Baxter the final at Moses Mabhida Stadium (kickoff: 8pm) will be his last match in charge as he will with some relief end his contract‚ and a manic juggling act these past weeks‚ to become full-time Bafana Bafana coach.
Jonevret will be under scrutiny from his club’s expectant fans‚ and Pirates’ management.
Having failed to improve on the floundering 10th place in the PSL he found Bucs in when he joined in February to become Pirates’ third coach of a tempus horribilus‚ and finishing in 11th‚ perhaps a lot rides on this final for the unheralded Swede.
Perhaps his fate has already been decided. Or perhaps‚ if Bucs can overturn the odds – for in this final‚ they do not seem to be favourites – it might buy Jonevret some time into a three-and-a-half year contract.
Circumstances‚ and not just form‚ do appear to be against Pirates.
The bizarre scheduling of a cup final three weeks after the league has been completed left Bucs inactive in match practice. SuperSport have competed in the Caf Confederation Cup.
SuperSport could not have had much better preparation than 0-0 draw against TP Mazembe at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Tuesday night.
SuperSport have looked better organised than Pirates all season. They have had a season-and-a-half under Baxter‚ while Pirates have had four months under Joneveret.
And‚ for what past results are worth‚ SuperSport dismantled Pirates – under a similar landscape of Matsantsantsa being the organised team with the plan‚ and Bucs being underachieving and unpredictable – 3-1 in last year’s final.
Not to mention the 6-1 league humiliation in Nelspruit in November.
That’s how the odds might be stacked statistically and based on form. But crowd support‚ and Pirates’ pedigree‚ and their hunger to win a trophy in their 80th anniversary season‚ are big levelers.
Bucs’ players have this week tried to play down their match inactivity.
“All of us know that we have not had a good season. It’s just something we have to accept and move on‚” midfielder Abbubaker Mobara said.
“There’s the Nedbank Cup final. It could be anyone’s. And the team who are hungry enough will take it.
“I wasn’t here for much of the preparations (Mobara was on duty with Bafana in Nigeria). As I came back‚ playing in a friendly on Sunday‚ I saw a lot more than just the Pirates of this season.
“I saw the team that I used to play against‚ and a team who want to win. If we can carry it on this Saturday I think we stand a good chance to win.”
Such a win‚ though‚ might not come as a relief to Jonevret. There have been question marks over the respective pedigrees of the two coaches‚ both of whom spent much of their careers – Jonevret all of his – in Scandinavia.
Baxter’s is not in doubt. He has won two league and cup doubles with Kaizer Chiefs‚ and last year’s Nedbank with SuperSport – a fine strike rate in four-and-a-half years at club level in South Africa. This is Baxter’s eighth cup final.
For Jonevret it is just his third. Even a win on Saturday might leave Bucs’ management not so convinced they have a coach in charge capable of meeting the demands at such a big club.