Khoza surprises fans with appointment of little-known Swede to rescue sinking Pirates
New Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret has barely had time to familiarise himself with his new surroundings and is already sweating over next month’s Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs.
The little-known mentor was named yesterday as the new Pirates coach on a three-year contract, and took over one of the hottest seats in South African soccer in the middle of a tumultuous period for the struggling Soweto side.
The 54-year-old Swede replaced beleaguered caretaker coach Augusto Palacios, who could not vacate the seat fast enough after presiding over a 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns that was marred by violent disruptions at Loftus Versfeld 11 days ago.
Pirates face Chiefs in a league match at the FNB Stadium on March 4 and Jonevret said he would have to hit the ground running if he was to endear himself to the hard-to-please Bucs supporters.
“I think we have to find our own way of playing and hopefully it is going to be successful, and if not in the first week, we have to do it in the second week because I think it is Kaizer Chiefs in the second week,” he said.
Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said he had to fast-track Jonevret’s appointment after angry supporters stormed the pitch at Loftus as a merciless Sundowns wiped the floor with the Bucs.
“I thought I should acknowledge that after what happened last week we had to fast-track the process,” Khoza said.
“[Jonevret] has staying power in the teams that he has coached [in Norway and Sweden], and I think that has been our challenge [keeping coaches for an extended period].
“So we hope that with the Swedish temperament he has shown at the teams he has coached, he educates us and imparts his temperament here.”
Jonevret said he did not want to talk about targets at the moment as he takes over a Pirates side that has won only four matches, lost five and drawn eight from 17 outings this season.
“I think it would be stupid to talk about what is going to happen at the end of the season right now because when you are in a situation like this, you have take things one day at a time,” he said.
“First of all, we are now 10th [on the PSL standings] and probably 10 or 15 points behind. So I think it is stupid to talk about medals right now.
“Let us play a few games and see. It is the daily work that will give us the results in the end and there will be no use talking about what will happen in June right now.”
Jonevret will officially assume his duties after he has received his work permit and he is unlikely be on the bench when Pirates face Polokwane City at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
He has already identified the rearguard as Pirates’ biggest achilles heel after watching their midweek 2-1 defeat to Wits and their thrilling 2-2 draw with Cape Town City at the weekend.
The Swede will be assisted by Mamelodi Sundowns legend Harold “Jazzy Queen” Legodi and Benson Mhlongo.
Former assistant Bradley Carnell has asked to be released from his duties to pursue a career overseas.