Chippa plan ahead

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HAVING avoided Premier Soccer League relegation by the skin of their teeth, the time has come for Chippa United to consolidate their position in the top-flight of South African soccer as they begin preparations for the next season.
The dust has not even settled yet on the 2014-15 season, but it is never too early to start planning, and Chippa Mpengesi and his advisers should already be hard at work plotting the way forward.
It is a massive relief to have avoided relegation, but that effort should not paper over the cracks which became increasingly apparent in the Chilli Boys’ set-up this season.
While many will point to the revolving door policy regarding the season’s coaches – Chippa used five coaches in six months – as one of the glaring weaknesses, club boss Siviwe Mpengesi has identified a number of other areas which contributed to the team’s wobbly journey through the PSL.
However, as the man in charge, he must shoulder much of the blame for the coaching fiasco, even if he says the Chippa management hired the wrong coaches. Either Mpengesi is making the wrong decisions or he is not getting the right advice from his management team, and that is something he will need to address as a matter of urgency.
No team can be expected to perform when coaches are disappearing almost at the rate of one a month, and settling on a solid coaching unit and giving them the proper backing must be the top priority as they prepare for 2015-16.
Mpengesi has some valid points as he assesses Chippa’s struggles this season, saying the late relocation to port elizabeth from Cape Town and the step up for many players from the National First Division to the PSL led to their problems on the field.
In an interview after Saturday’s game against Kaizer Chiefs, he said: “l would say almost 70 per cent of our players were ill-disciplined. When they started to win games in the first round they became big-headed. The discipline, instead of improving, became worse.”
This is a strong indication that the Chippa management will need to undertake a close evaluation of their contracted squad to establish who has the qualities to perform to expectations in the PSL.
Again, it points to having a solid coaching team in place, but the players will also need to take responsibility for their actions. Mpengesi needs to lay down the law in terms of what is expected of the players and to stress the commitment and dedication required to succeed in the top-flight.
perhaps, with a season of PSL behind them, the players will have a better understanding of what is needed at this level and if they can combine a more committed approach with a stable coaching team, it could make a massive difference.
Having settled in PE, with the nelson mandela Bay Stadium as their home, it is also time for Chippa to embrace the region as their support base and to undertake a marketing programme which will bring them closer to local supporters.
While any player needs to have the requisite ability to be included in a PSL squad, Chippa should be doing all they can to interact with the Eastern Cape soccer bodies to ensure a path for the promotion of local talent is included in their structures.
With a season in PE under their belts, it would be a massive lift for the region to see fans strongly identifying with their own team. Filling the stadium with supporters of Chippa can only translate into better performances on the field and strong backing from local role-players for the team.
Nobody will dispute that the Eastern Cape needs a PSL team with which it can identify. Chippa United are ideally situated to become that team and they need to exploit their opportunities to the full.
In turn, it is essential that local businesses, government and the fans get behind the team to ensure the struggles of this season fade into something of the past.

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