Sunday, 24 November 2013

Two finals, one trophy. And it isn't even December yet. The delightfully cool Allan Freese on Platinum Stars, giant-killing and contract-signing

Slayer-in-Chief: Allan Freese
THERE is a delightful coolness to Allan Earl Freese as his Platinum Stars ice-berg continues to sink the Titanic giants of South African football.

Super-cool. Distinctly unfashionable. No contract. Sharp as a razor. The ultimate Caretaker Manager. Everyone thought last year’s PSL runners-up were in for a Phokeng struggle this season after Cavin Johnson decamped for SuperSport United.

Instead, Freese stepped up from assistant boss to guide his side past Orlando Pirates to the MTN8 trophy before, on Saturday night, he engineered a shock 1-0 defeat of double-winning Kaizer Chiefs to take his side to an unprecedented second cup final in his first season in charge.

Now 57, Freese had his moments as a player. I watched the AmaKhosi beaten with SABC analyst Desh Bhaktawer on Saturday night. The former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper explained: “Freesy was a fair player. I remember in the old days at Arcadia Shepherds, Stan Lapot rated him as one of the top left backs in the country.”

The Rock: Allan's brother
Howard captained Chiefs
Driving happily down the highway of unexpected success on the North West’s N4 on Sunday, Freese laughs at the memory. “Yes, I got the SMS from Deshi after the game. Those were good days! But this season I’m having fun. My brother Howard (“The Rock” captained Kaizer Chiefs, Allan went to Orlando Pirates) just called me. He said: ‘It wasn’t Kaizer Chiefs playing badly, it was Platinum Stars playing well. That was the difference.’ And I think he’s right.

“I have got a bunch of guys who play for each other at Stars, not individuals. Everyone can surprise me, not just Robert N’gambi (their Malawian top scorer) – how about Thabiso Semenya popping up with his first goal?

“We’re playing good football. People seem to forget that, they concentrate on how badly the other side are playing. But we beat Gavin Hunt’s Bidvest Wits home and away in the MTN8 semi-finals, we won the final on penalties against a Pirates side doing well in Africa… and we beat champions Chiefs fair and square.”

Despite breaking a seven-year trophy drought and keeping his side in the running for the PSL title while reaching the Telkom KO final at Mbombela on December 7, Freese remains on the assistant coach’s contract he signed two seasons at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

With Orlando Pirates looming in a repeat of the MTN8 final, he laughs: “I’ve been in to see the chairman a few times, we’ve talked about a new contract, but I’m doing okay without one. You know how football is. I got a pay rise, so did my assistant Willem Jackson.

“If you think I deserve better, you’ll have to say that. I couldn’t possibly comment!”

So I will. Dikwena football manager Senzo Mazingisa says the creeping crocodiles, funded by BaPhokeng King Leruo’s platinum profits, won’t offer Freese a contract until May.

That’s fine. By that time, Freese will have quite a CV I suspect. And other clubs will be looking. How do you  reward a man who has already picked up a trophy and reached two cup finals before December?

By offering him a much BETTER deal than the one he would have signed five months ago as the quiet understudy assuming control. There’s an icy sense of justice in that for Mr Freeze.

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