Sunday, 29 September 2013

From the bottom to the top: Craig Rosslee explains his 10-month revolution at AmaZulu

Leader of the green revolution: Craig Rosslee

Explain this: Ten months ago, AmaZulu were marooned at the bottom of the PSL. Today, they are level on points at the top of South African fooball.

It’s the kind of turnaround which creates legends in Europe. But in South Africa, AmaZulu’s rise from the ashes has gone almost unnoticed.

The key to the AmaZulu revolution is the coach Craig Rosslee, a former Hellenic, Santos and Cape Town Spurs defender who went on to coach Ajax Cape Town and played a major part in Orlando Pirates first treble as assistant to Ruud Krol in 2009/2010.

When Rosslee took over AmaZulu in November last year, the famous cries of Usuthu! were muted. The club had managed just nine points from 12 games under Swedish boss Roger Palmgren and they trailed behind Chippa United and Leopards, the clubs destined for relegation. Under Rosslee, they took 20 points from their remaining 18 games to secure safety in 12th position.

This season they have 11 points from their first five games and share the top of the PSL with SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows.

Rosslee, also an accomplished television analyst, told me on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on Ballz visual radio (see video at the foot of this story): “Ten months! Obviously my first task was to keep the club up last season. We had nine points when I arrived, we got clear of relegation, we ended safely in mid-table.

“At the end of the season we decided to make some changes. We shipped out 17 players, brought in 15. We only kept a handful of the old players.

“At this point in time it’s a work in progress. The aim is to get the players to gel, to get them playing together. It’s coming along nicely now. We’re doing it in a very professional way, we have character, guys who do the work. That’s what we’re looking for.

“If this squad can apply themselves, both on and off the field, I see a great future for the club.”

In charge of one of South Africa’s oldest clubs (founded in 1932 only Wits University (1921) is older), Rosslee grins: “Remember I played for AmaZulu, like you I remember the Joel Fayas. This job is more about what I can give back than what I can take from this club.

“The Royal Family back us, the people look to us. Things stagnated. South African football in general has to find a way to move forward, and we have a duty to encourage development too.

“We’re lacking goals in this country. How do we address that? I’m happy to work on that generally, with all the other clubs.

“We have to find goals. Look at Gavin Hunt at Wits. He’s spoiled for choice up front but still doesn’t get them. How do we get players to score goals?

Hot shot: Ayanda Dlamini

“I need strikers who can score more than five goals a season. I have to get goals from other positions too if we’re not going to get 15 or 20 goals out of a striker. We need wide men to can put the ball in the right place.

“Apart from Bongani Ndulula, our predominant target man is Ayanda Dlamini, he took a while to get on centre stage, he’s 28 now. But he’s getting the goals that get us out of trouble. He’s a fantastic finisher.

“You have to work with the strikers, get them to hit the target, hit the target. Because often that’s not done at the development stage you know.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve still got to work on these lads, get them to develop their skills while they’re playing at the top level of football in South Africa.”

With a near-fullhouse at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban on Saturday to witness Platinum Stars’ surprise penalty shoot-out MTN8 final win over Orlando Pirates, Rosslee believes a successful AmaZulu can awake the dormant fans in the port city.

He insists: “I would love to see the stadium full for games against all sides in the PSL. I believe if we play the right brand of football we can do that. That needs to be reflected across the country. Play attacking football and the fans will come.”

BOLLOCKZ! my show on, airs every Thursday from 10am-noon. See the Ballz channel on Youtube for our growing collection of interviews like the one above.

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  1. I am happy to see a young South African coach doing well with the country's oldest team. Now the only thing that has to change is for people of KZN to stop supporting the Gauteng teams. It's time to support your home boys.

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