Dan Malesela's back to haunt Chiefs: 31 years later
The TS Galaxy coach says he would love to beat Amakhosi in another cup final
With a chuckle accompanied by a broad smile, Dan "Dance" Malesela (53) still remembers Lawrence 'Killer' Maake's extra-time goal in the final of the Bobsave Super Bowl between the beloved club he captained, Orlando Pirates, and Kaizer Chiefs on December 3 1988.
Maake's strike gave Malesela's team a 2-1 victory over their archrivals in a replay at a packed Ellis Park after the first instalment ended in a goalless draw.
Now, as a coach of National First Division outfit TS Galaxy, Malesela faces the same Chiefs in the final of the same cup competition.
The major change in the current competition is the sponsor's name, Nedbank, and the fact that this year's final will take place at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium, over 500km away from where Malesela lifted the trophy more than three decades ago.
"How lovely it will be, hey (to win the trophy again)," says Malesela when he was reminded of the 1988 triumph.
"This is my birth month, my actual birth month. The date is on the 27th of May, not the one in my ID. My ID says I was born in June (27) when I was actually born in May."
The team from Kameelrivier in Mpumalanga that Malesela is coaching are the new kids on the block in the second tier of SA football. Galaxy owner Tim Sukazi, a former player agent, bought the Cape Town All Stars franchise at the beginning of the campaign.
Malesela joined Galaxy after he was fired at Chippa United just three Absa Premiership matches into this season. The availability of Malesela came as a huge blessing for Sukazi, who had come a long way with the former Pirates skipper, even managing his affairs as a professional coach.
Galaxy survived the first season in the NFD with ease last weekend, finishing in the eighth spot while contemplating a date with Chiefs in the cup final on Saturday.
"I don't think it has sunk in that much (the final), maybe the reality will come in next week," said Malesela.
"But as a way of calming the players nerves, because most of them have never been in a cup final, I used a bit of my experiences. We've already had a few SA legends coming to our training to motivate them.
"I had Bernard Lushozi, Eric Ramasike and Roger Feutmba. We need all the help we can get."
Against a misfiring Chiefs that has not had the best of seasons, especially in their league campaign where they were still fighting for a top-eight finish yesterday, Malesela said they can't afford to lower their guard.
Chiefs are known for their cup pedigree in SA football and having won this cup a record 13 times, Malesela said even in their desperate times in which they are close to going four unprecedented years without a trophy, Chiefs can't be underestimated.
"It makes them even more dangerous," said Malesela of Chiefs' current form.
"Obviously for their season they would want to win this one. Everybody is mocking Chiefs but surely they would want to get something for the season, which is what we want to do as well."
Against a Chiefs support that will be close to 40,000 at a sold-out Mabhida, Malesela said their away record in this year's competition, which saw them winning four out of five away matches, will help. "We are also away now," said Malesela of Saturday's final, "So if away works for us, let it be."
Though he has studied Chiefs well enough to know their weaknesses, Malesela said he will only start bombarding his players about how to overcome them after seeing the first half of Saturday's game.
"I mainly focus on my opponents at half-time," said Malesela, "That's when I know what is happening because it depends on us as well."
Zakhele Lepasa (22), the Galaxy striker who came off the bench to score a match-winning brace in extra time in the semifinal against Golden Arrows in Durban, grew up supporting Chiefs but said that will play no part in his game on Saturday.
"My mom (Ohopolang Monyai) is very excited. She is a football fan and ironically she supports Chiefs," said Lepasa from Snake Park in Soweto.
"She has to support me on Saturday. She used to take me to FNB Stadium when I was young and I used to support Chiefs too. To be honest, though, things are no longer the same there, but hey, it's still Kaizer Chiefs."
Lepasa, on loan from Pirates, is hoping their final appearance will propel his and his teammates' careers to greater heights...