For a while Simo Dladla took a seat behind the scenes, but one of SA’s brightest coaching minds is back in the spotlight this time as head coach of GladAfrica Championship side Richards Bay.
Dladla, 40, was until recently a technical director at Real Kings, whom he previously coached.
In fact, it was under Dladla’s guidance that Kings surprised all and sundry to finish fourth in the second tier in the 2017/18, but things were not the same for Kings after losing players such as goalkeeper Ricardo Goss, who’s now with Premiership side, Bidvest Wits.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Dladla relishes the challenge to take 11th placed Richards Bay to safety following their struggles under different coaches, including Ian Palmer, who was relieved of his duties with Dladla taking over.
With a couple of wins against Cape Umoya and more recently Tshakhuma, the Natal Rich Boyz are pushing for a top eight finish.
FARPost had an opportunity to chat to Dladla, who’s pleased with the team’s progress.
“I’m enjoying a lot of support from everyone here at Richards Bay,” says the man who hails from Ka Nyuswa village outside Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal.
“I appreciate the opportunity from the chairman (Jomo Biyela). Of course, it’s a big challenge.”
Earlier this season, Dladla was part of Real Kings’ team that beat Richards Bay 2-0 and when Biyela came knocking on his door, Dladla was well aware of the challenge that lies ahead in turning their fortunes around.
“When I came here with Real Kings, I saw a team (Richards Bay) that was demoralised from afar. They were not fighting for the result and I don’t know what happened there, but it was a huge risk me coming here, but having been here almost three weeks now, I’m enjoying a lot of support from the coaches; Thulani Nkosi (assistant coach) and Vusi Magagula, the goalkeeper coach,” Dladla asserted.
The battle is not won. Richards Bay are not far off from the danger zone. But it’s Dladla’s firm belief that Richards Bay would keep improving and not only stave off relegation, but also set up a strong base to fight for promotion next season.
“It’s a small team, a small squad, but full of potential and of course the support is amazing… we’ve got everything here; the gym, training facilities and the stadium. It’s a perfect place for football, really. We just need to put together a strong squad.”
Dladla, meanwhile, has a knack for spotting talent. Kaizer Chiefs’s Dumisani Zuma was his player at Real Kings, before the latter was snapped up by Bloemfontein Celtic from where he moved to Amakhosi.
With this in mind, Dladla wants to continue helping players fulfill their dreams of playing in the topflight.
Well, it appears a lot more than just good football is going to happen at Richards Bay with Dladla at the helm.
It would explain why Biyela chased Dladla’s signature for years before finally succeeding in bringing him down to Richards Bay.
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa