Matlaba says Frenchman Soccoia did not know how to use Leopards’ players

10 October 2019 - 14:02 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Thabo Matlaba of Black Leopards and Manuel Kambala of Baroka FC during the Absa Premiership match.
Thabo Matlaba of Black Leopards and Manuel Kambala of Baroka FC during the Absa Premiership match.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Black Leopards captain Thabo Matlaba has revealed that there was confusion at Ludoda Divha during the short-lived reign of former coach Lionel Soccoia‚ who was fired last month.

The Frenchman was given the boot after five matches in charge where Leopards were struggling on 12th place on the Absa Premiership table‚ two points above the relegation zone.

“When a new coach comes in‚ sometimes it can be difficult and in our case he [Soccoia] did not know most of us and how we play‚” said Matlaba during the launch of the Telkom Knockout competition where they were drawn with Highlands Park.

“There was confusion in the team but assistant Morgan Shivambu was trying to help him. I think that maybe he didn’t want to take advice and I will say that‚ but at least now we have a coach who knows everyone.”

After the dismissal of Soccoia‚ Leopards management moved quickly to appoint experienced Luc Eymael‚ who lost his first match on the bench 2-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns.

“We did not start the season well but we have a new coach in Luc Eymael now and it is a matter of us understanding his tactics to move out of the bottom half of the table‚” Matlaba said.

“He is a coach who has been in the country before and he knows most of us and how we play.

“If you look at our win against [Bloemfontein] Celtic‚ where Eymael was sitting in the stands‚ we won the match and we played very well in the second half against Mamelodi Sundowns even though we lost that game.”

Matlaba said Leopards’ players are feeling the pressure to deliver at least one piece of silverware after the club made a number of high profile signings before the start of the season.

Lidoda Duvha signed players like Andriamirado Andrianarimanana‚ Cuthbert Malajila‚ Jonas Mendes‚ Mogakolodi Ngele and Siyabonga Zulu to boost the team who flirted with relegation last season.

“There is pressure on us this season because of the way the club has recruited players on the transfer market. We have to do everything possible to take this club to a higher level and to achieve that we must work hard to win things starting with the Telkom Knockout‚” Matlaba said‚ adding that he expects to be back in action from injury next week.

“I got a grade one hamstring injury before the Celtic match but I am recovering well and will start training next week. What we promise to the fans and the chairman is that this team will be in the top eight.”