The majestic, Dan “Dance” Malesela did the impossible with TS Galaxy in 2019 when he propelled the Rockets in to the pinnacle of South African football by winning the Nedbank Cup at the expense of Kaizer Chiefs at the iconic, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
But despite that success, Dance as he affectionately known to the football lovers in Mzansi has never rested on his laurels, going on about his business with his chest high and his appetite for success intact.
TS Galaxy website had the privilege of sitting face to face with the 54-year-old who insists he still has a lot to achieve.
TSG: Coach Dan, the new season is upon us, take us through our preparations.
DM: We are sort of ready to take on the first game. Otherwise we wouldn’t go to Venda. It is just for us to get right people to the right places and purpose of the match that we’ve just played now (training match this past Saturday), it is to see if people can gel and work well together. It is very promising. The good thing is that we’ve played a quite number of games and we’ve scored goals in all those games. What is not pleasing is that we conceded as a well. We need to fix the defending.
TSG: And then the importance of setting the tone coach in our first game against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila. How key is that?
DM: It is always nice to start well. It is a moral booster. It is a confidence booster. You win the first game and everybody get hyped up. Those two games are very closed (we will lock horns against AmaZulu on Wednesday in Mbombela). If we win the first two games and we will take the break with confidence but if we don’t win, we will have this long break that will just haunt us. I know that immediately, we want to rectify things. If we win this games, it will make everybody’s life easy.
TSG: The competition for places in our squad is very healthy. No one can’t afford to rest on his laurels.
DM: We need to compete. Every position must have competition. If people are going to relax and know that certain people owns certain positions, we won’t have competition. We won’t have competition even if we play other teams. We need competition within and competition outside. People who performs must know that if I don’t stay consistent, I may be sitting on the bench in the next game.
TSG: How is the signage? Are players that were at TS Galaxy gelling well with those that were at Highlands Park and together with the new signings?
DM: Well, it is a process. At the moment we have a bit of both. Some players are still trying to adjust to the conditions here. The coaching is different. Some have well adjusted. Those that are lacking we will need to push a little bit.
TSG: Are you happy with the squad that you’ve assembled? Do you feel you need to strengthen?
DM: Good players you cannot ignore. If there is a good player that you know, you may as well go for that player irrespective of what you have. Our most critical position in the addition of a center back. If we can get one center back and then we will be fine.
TSG: Our squad has the mixture of young and experienced players.
DM: We are a youth driven team. It is good that we got a young players. I won’t say they are youngsters because for me when you are young it is when you break in to the PSL at the age of 16 and 17. Once you go and pass those ages, you are no longer young. When you are 18, you can go in to a bottle store (he chlucked). We have young players. We hope we can get more. It is so unfortunate that our development structures are not operating hut we have a good blend. You need leadership in the team and most of the times, you can get it in from experience players. You also need young blood so that they can compensate what the older guys lacks. We a good blend of players and hopefully, it will work for us.
TSG: Tell us about your secrets of playing young players.
DM: It is a lack of fear of playing these players. Half of the times we get these youngsters but we are scared to play them. I don’t have fear of playing them. This thing of saying we are throwing people in the deep end or what, what. There are times when you have this casual approach of saying that let me just take time because this boy lacks this and that but if you can’t identify anything, play him. When is he going to get used to this thing. Let us play them and see.