New Black Leopards coach Dylan Kerr expects a tough baptism of fire on Saturday in his debut match as the newly-promoted outfit take on high-riding Bidvest Wits at Thohoyandou Stadium.
Kerr returns to South African football after first playing at Arcadia in the 1980s and then coming back some 20 years later to serve as assistant-coach at Mpumalanga Black Aces‚ Thanda Royal Zulu and Nathi Lions to Sammy Troughton‚ his former club-mate.
Now Kerr‚ 51‚ is back for a third time after seven years working in Vietnam‚ Tanzania and Kenya for what he is calling a dream opportunity in charge of a Premier Soccer League side.
“I’ve been wanting to come back since 2011‚ after Nathi Lions. I believed that I had the right coaching ability to stay in South Africa then but it didn’t happen for me. I always had the belief that I could do a good job‚” he told TimesLIVE.
“The PSL is such a strong league and it’s really good to get the opportunity to work in it‚” said Kerr‚ who won the league in Kenya with his previous club Gor Mahia.
“I know it’s going to be tough but I’m determined I’m going to keep this club up and be around next season too.”
Leopards sit second-last in the PSL standings with nine points from 11 games‚ having had a three-week break since their last game. The 3-1 loss at Cape Town City cost coach Joel Masutha his job.
“There are no big hitters‚ no superstars‚ no egos in this squad. They are honest and genuine guys and they’ve worked hard for me since I’ve arrived‚” said Kerr of his new charges‚ who he has had a fortnight to work with.
“Their energy and enthusiasm has been a pleasure for me as a coach. I’ve done everything I can to prepare them for what we expect from Wits.”
Kerr watched Wits lose last weekend’s Telkom Knockout semifinal against Baroka FC in Polokwane but is not fooled into an overconfident approach to the game.
“It’s going to be a big task against a side with top players and a highly respected manager. We know it’s going to be tough‚” he said.
But if Leopards can get some points out of the clash and start to climb the log‚ then Kerr believes there is potential.
“I’ve come to Black Leopards for the challenge. I think with what I’ve seen so far we can stay up if we keep up the same attitude. But it will be tough‚ we’ve still got to get a lot better‚” he added.