Heric upbeat about saving Leopards

Vladislav Heric @ Backpagepix
Vladislav Heric’s familiarity with the Black Leopards players could be key in the Limpopo club’s quest to steer clear of the relegation zone.

Heric already had a couple of spells as head coach of Lidoda Duvha under his belt when just over a month ago he answered the club’s SOS call to again take charge of the team.

His tenure started badly with a 5-1 thrashing by Mamelodi Sundowns (Heric was not actually on the bench for this game as his PSL registration had not come through at that stage).

But things have improved since then, with a 1-0 away win to AmaZulu helping Leopards to open a five point gap on bottom side Jomo Cosmos, also putting them in touch with teams ranked up to 12th on the Absa Premiership log.

The likes of Benedict Vilakazi and Kleinbooi Taaibos have signed for the club, adding much-needed experience.

Heric feels that his knowledge of the current squad and the culture at the club, together with the new signings, will assist in the team climbing up and away from the basement.

“Wherever I work I give all my heart, even more so at Leopards because this was the first club I joined when I came to South Africa.

“I think the fans appreciate that and I have been well received since I returned. I left the club on good terms before and now I’m really looking forward to resuming my work,” he told the PSL.co.za.

“I know almost all of the players. Having worked with them for two years before I left, that’s good in that we can pick things up quickly. The break from action has also helped me – it’s given me the chance to set things up and time to motivate the players,” the Serb added.

“We have some excellent young players here, and together with the experienced guys we have signed, who will be very important to the team, I believe we will be ok. Through hard work and discipline, we can survive.”

While some clubs have elected not to release their players for junior national team duty, Lidoda Duvha have allowed their top marksman, Rodney Ramagalela to travel to Morocco to take part in the Olympic Games qualifying matches.

On Sunday night Ramagalela was instrumental in setting up SA U23’s only goal of the game against Cote d’Ivoire (a 1-1 draw) when he played in Ace Bhengu with a perfect cross.

“We don’t have a problem to let our best players go away on national team duty – it’s something we are proud of, and it’s a great opportunity for the player and for him, an honour to represent his country. Rodney is an exciting player and we have high hopes for him,” said Heric.

For now, Leopards must focus closer to home when they host Cosmos in a crunch encounter at the Giyani Stadium tonight. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

“It’s a big game for us. Regardless of the points and the log standings, Cosmos have always been difficult opponents for us and we are ready for a very tough mach.”