Sikhakhane confident of rescue act
Posted: 12 February 2018 Time: 18:00
New Royal Eagles coach Roger Sikhakhane is determined to build momentum after starting his reign at the club with a 1-0 win over Happy Wanderers in the Nedbank Cup last-32.
Former Mamelodi Sundowns striker Mame Niang nodded home a 14th minute cross from Diego Brown at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Sunday to snap a two-game losing run for the ambitious, but ailing outfit.
Eagles, who have scored and conceded the most goals in the National First Division this season, are 14th on the league standings with 19 points from 20 matches - a point above the drop zone.
"What was important is that the team won and we move to the second round. I think it is the first time this season the club has kept a clean sheet," said Sikhakhane, who replaced Serbian tactician Kosta Papic in the hotseat last week.
"But going forward I still have work to do with these players. I see when we play, we play with limitations and I think the confidence is not there from the players.
"But this game was very important mentally to boost them psychologically because the last two games they lost; at Black Leopards by 1-0 and they were beaten 4-0 by Highlands Park. I think to win in this game will come as a boost in their minds.
"So moving forward let's hope we'll build from this one."
Sikhakhane faces a similar situation to when he replaced David Bright at the now-defunt Thanda Royal Zulu in February 2016 with 10 matches left in 2015/16. At the time Thanda were in a fight for survival and Sikhakhane managed to guide them to safety. The following season he steered the club to NFD honours prompting AmaZulu to buy their topflight status last term.
With 10 games left this campaign, 'Mshefi' is drawing confidence from that stint with Thanda as he looks to ease Eagles' relegation fears.
"I see the position on the log table but in two or three games the team will be out of the relegation zone," he added.
"What is important right now is we shouldn't put this struggle into our heads that we are in the relegation zone. We have to focus on how we get those results in the next games so that we can be able to move away from the red zone.
"That is going to happen and I don't think it is something that is difficult because there's equal commitment from the players, but some have yet to understand how we play."
Sikhakhane has reunited with Papic's former assistant Vladislav Heric at the club. Sikhakhane assisted Heric when Chippa United won promotion to the topflight in 2013/15. Heric has now been redeployed to serve as a technical director at Eagles focusing on development.