The confidence of his players and identifying his best combinations are the tasks new Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret has identified as his immediate priorities‚ as the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs looms on Saturday.
Jonevret – a big‚ calm Swede with a genial but authoritative manner – was the surprise choice Pirates brought in as coach to rescue 2016-17 from being a write-off‚ and start earning trophies again for the club.
His first match on the bench at a soaked Orlando Stadium on Saturday for a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw against Polokwane City‚ showed he had much work to do.
Bucs have one of the top three squads in the country with Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits‚ so their league position of 10th and run of 10 games without a win have been a spectacular underachievement.
Any team under-performing to that extent must be low on confidence. Jonevret, 54, is on a crash course not just on his playerheavy but talented squad‚ but also SA football‚ having not coached outside Scandinavia. He said confidence and getting to know his own players were his priorities.
“Maybe it would have been easier if you just had 15 players that you know are good‚” he said.
“But Orlando Pirates right now have a lot of good players.
“There are many who could play a game like this [against City].
“So of course it’s difficult for me to pick the guys that I really believe or trust to make it good in the way that I want to play. “But that’s going to take time. “On Saturday I saw 14 players. I’m satisfied with a lot of themx‚ but I also want to work a bit extra with a few for the next games.
“Of course we should always play the best teams. I’m not changing players every game. I want them [to feel] I believe in them.
“I think that it’s tough to play games when you always play with a gun to your head. And I mean‚ I said to them on Saturday also‚ you need to start to believe in yourselves‚ because you are good players.
“You saw the last 15 or 20 minutes where they were just fantastic sometimes. One against ones and getting past players. I mean [Abbubaker] Mobara‚ he gets through all the time.
“So they are good players – they just have to start to believe. Hopefully, we can see some other players if we can arrange some friendly games this week. But it’s going to take a few weeks to assess the quality of the whole group.
Jonevret will get a taste of the biggest match in SA football when Bucs meet Chiefs in Saturday’s derby at FNB Stadium.