Secker quits Lijabatho camp

As clubless Manda takes over the reins

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Charles Manda on Monday took over the reins as Lijabatho FC’s new head coach following the dismissal of Thabile Secker the previous day.

The Malawian coach lands a new job two weeks after he parted ways with Matlama following Tse Putsoa’s poor run in the league which saw them losing two games in a row, 2-1 to the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and 2-0 to Linare. Secker, on the other hand, was given the boot after Lijabatho were beaten 1-0 by Matlama and 3-1 by LDF in consecutive matches.

The well travelled Secker, who won the 2018/19 league championship, joined Lijabatho in the January transfer window period of 2020. Lijabatho were at the time languishing on position 13 on the then 14-team Econet Premier League log table. Secker leaves Lijabatho sitting on position 8 of the 16-team Vodacom Premier League log table.

“I received my dismissal letter yesterday (Sunday) at around 0700hrs, with management indicating that they could no longer afford my demands,” said Secker in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week.

“But, what I can confirm is that club owner Sipho Mashulugu had already come to me indicating that the team was not performing well.”

Secker added: “But as far as I know this team was from the beginning of my stay here relegation material; I worked hard and it has now improved. So, really, what was being said about performance doesn’t make sense to me.” Secker said Mashulugu then said he would like Manda to come and join the Lijabatho technical team as he believed he could help the team.

“He then said he would like Coach Manda to come and help us; and I told him right away that there’s no way two coaches can work together; that it’s either me or him.” Secker further noted there was also a recommendation that he should interview Manda for the coaching job “but I refused to do so.”

“I told them that coaches don’t interview one another, no matter what, but that a coach can interview a player, and a coach can be interviewed by a manager.” Secker’s contract with Lijabatho was due to expire next month and Public Eye has been made to understand that management at Lijabatho had wanted to renew it.

But Secker told this reporter that he rejected the offer. “I did refuse to negotiate the extension of the contract while my contract was yet to expire in July. I don’t operate like that. My contract should expire first and then talks can be opened, not before.”

Secker further said: “In fact, they only said it verbally that they still want to work with me but they never called me to the table about that.” Secker also said his contract was based on performance and that its terms were yet to be met as far as the team’s performance was concerned ever since he took over as Lijabatho’s coach.

“I said fine (when they verbally said they still wanted to work with him) but let us first solve the issues which are there and have never been addressed concerning the performance.

“Basically, there were no demands but we (Lijabatho technical team) wanted them to pay the money they owed us based on performance since this is spelt out in the contract and nothing else.”

Lijabatho’s Communications and Marketing Manager, Tšepiso Thoso, confirmed that his club had parted ways with Secker and they had immediately roped in Manda as their new coach.

“Yes, the management of Lijabatho Football Club has decided to part ways with Coach Secker because of his demands that we could not afford,” said Thoso on Tuesday.

“As human beings, coaches have demands and wishes, but since Lijabatho are still a small team we could not afford his demands.” Thoso said Secker’s dismissal was not influenced by the team’s latest performance but reiterated that it was because of his demands, which he said somehow affected the team’s performance.

“For an example, Secker’s contract was due to expire next month and as a team we wanted to sit down with him and negotiate the extension of his contract but, unfortunately, the coach refused saying he wants his contract to expire first and then we could talk. “So, unfortunately, as a team we could not wait until his contract expired. That’s basically one of the reasons we have decided to part ways with him.”

Thoso said, therefore, they had no option but to replace Secker with immediate effect. “We had to rope in a new coach and he is none other than Coach Manda.” Thoso said Manda was introduced to the players on Tuesday and started his first training session on the same day.

This is the second time in a row that Manda joins a team which Secker has just left. He joined Matlama in the beginning of the 2019/20 after Secker resigned winning the league title in the 2018/19 season. Now Manda joins Lijabatho just a day after Secker leaves the Morija-based side.

 

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