The old saying “you can’t keep a good man down” continues to thrive in modern day, this time through the progress of Dan “Dance” Malesela at Baroka FC.
The soft-spoken and yet no-nonsense coach has, over the years, been used and dumped by impatient club owners but this has not dampened his spirit.
Malesela, talented and yet underrated, once again is proving his case as a shrewd mentor after improving the fortunes of Baroka in just three months.
When the 58-year-old mentor arrived at the Limpopo club, spirits were down as the former premier league club languished in the drop zone of Motsepe Foundation Championship. Hopes of return to the DStv Premiership are now high after Baroka rose to third spot under Malesela.
Though the league is still open after 17 rounds of fixtures, Malesela appears to be on the right track with his Lebowakgomo-based troops. The former Chippa United, TS Galaxy and Royal AM coach was jobless for 10 months before the call from Baroka late last year. His last job was with Marumo Gallants, who fired him after winning the 2022 Nedbank Cup.
After joining in October, he has since guided Baroka to seven victories and three draws in 12 matches, collecting 24 points to add to the mere three from five matches the team had before his arrival.
Now with 27 points from 17 outings, Baroka are just three points behind log leaders Orbit FC. Second-placed Pretoria University have 28 points.
Baroka had played their first five matches under Stanford Nkoane, whom the club sacked to make way for the more experienced Malesela. Nkoane’s expulsion came after his team lost 2-1 at home to cross town rivals Magesi FC on August 27.
Baroka’s home ground is the impressive Global Stadium, which forms part of the club’s headquarters in Lebowakgomo.
Malesela’s biggest victories by far were a set of 4-1 wins over Black Leopards and Platinum City Rovers.
Club chairperson Khurishi Mphahlele has compared Malesela’s coaching to those of Rulani Mokoena and Pitso Mosimane. “Malesela’s future is certain with this club.”
He was responding to speculation about Malesela being courted by other clubs, including those competing in the DStv Premiership. “He is really happy here and brings supporters to our team and he is adding value,” Mphahlele said.
Malesela and his troops went to the festive break with some positive results after winning their last match of the year 2-1 away to Maritzburg United.