Can a big city guy like Doctor Khumalo fit in at a small city club like Baroka?
Doctor Khumalo wanted to go to a club where he can make an impact‚ the Kaizer Chiefs legend said‚ explaining his shock next choice of destination as technical director of Baroka FC.
As Baroka proudly paraded their biggest signing of the club’s 10-year history this week‚ one had to wonder what sort of role Khumalo might be able to play.
Baroka already have a coach.
And while Khumalo has his Uefa B licence‚ years of experience as a player and assistant-coach at Chiefs‚ and a player in America and Argentina‚ will as eccentric a character as Kgoloko Thobejane really listen to him?
Baroka’s equally colourful chairman‚ Khurishi Mphahlele‚ clad in a bright red suit at the function in Bramley‚ Johannesburg‚ declared that Khumalo had a contract effectively for life.
Mphahlele recently announced plans for a R144 million Baroka village 50 kilometres outside Polokwane modeled on Chiefs’ at Naturena or Sundowns’ at Chloorkop.
Now the chairman has managed to lure one of Amakhosi’s favourite sons to Limpopo.
Clearly this is a small club with big ambitions. But can Khumalo‚ a son of Soweto and big city guy‚ used to a big club with big structures in his 31 years spent at Chiefs‚ really fit in?
“I was approached by two or three other teams in the PSL. The Baroka offer was appealing to me‚” the ex-midfielder said.
“Baroka are a team where I can go without any pressure to do what I think I am capable of doing.
“Unlike other places where they are established and they have better positions for other people.
“I think for one to gauge himself‚ you do it by going where people think that there is nothing to do. I’m a man who likes challenges‚ if you know me better.
“I can’t divulge it – because it’s an agreement between me and the chairman and the board of Baroka – but I must say there’s a bigger picture into this.
“Obviously it’s about trying to build that kind of a brand. It’s not a matter of whether they have four supporters and Chiefs have 20. It’s a matter of who wants it more.”
Khumalo has been accused of choosing a comfort zone at Chiefs rather than gaining experience coaching whoever might come calling – like Shaun Bartlett did at Golden Arrows and University of Pretoria.
Will a technical directorial role get him to where he wants to go‚ as a PSL head coach?
“The TD role is about taking care of technical and tactical matters. Making sure that everything is done according to the philosophy of the team‚” he said.
“And it’s not Doc Khumalo’s philosophy. I will be guided by the culture and the way Baroka operate.
“And what I possess probably will help them. And what they possess probably will help me.
“In this game you learn every second. There are so many things I’ve learnt.
“How the European and some of the African teams have approached their preparation and periodisation.
“Being a qualified coach and also instructor does not make me better than the technical team that is already there.
“If you respect people with pedigree‚ and you also bring something that they don’t have‚ you’re actually bringing some sort of a good foundation.”
At 50‚ Khumalo has chosen a late start to spread his wings.
If he is allowed to play an active role at Baroka‚ perhaps he can help them take some of their first steps in the direction they clearly want to go‚ and vice versa.