Ex-Leopards coach defends Phala, mom


Former Black Leopards coach Luc Eymael has been moved by Suzan Phala's words regarding her son Thuso Phala and come out in support.

Suzan Phala, who is not just the player's mother but a well-respected administrator in South African football having worked with the likes of Platinum Stars in the past, told this website on record that she was unimpressed with the way the Limpopo club treated her son this season.

READ: Mother’s bombshell: Thuso has retired

Phala has mutually parted ways with Leopards after a season mostly spent on the bench.

Suzan also claimed Phala has decided to retire after his experience at Leopards, which the player's agent Basia Michaels has now confirmed is not the case.

"We need to place it on the record that Thuso will not be retiring from football. We will embark on finding him a team for the upcoming 2020/21 season," Michaels said.

READ: Why Phala left Leopards

Now Eymael, who worked closely with Phala at Leopards having been one of three coaches used at Lidoda Duvha this season, has contacted KickOff.com to back up Suzan's comments and says there was no reason to leave an experienced player like Phala out of the team.

"[Sighing] What is down at Leopards remains at Leopards," Eymael tells KickOff.com.

Eymael is not the first former Leopards coach to make a statement like this. Cavin Johnson was similarly coy when asked what happened during his tenure a few months ago.

READ: 'What happened in Venda stays in Venda'

"Only one person can judge what is happening there and that is God, the real God," Eymael continues.

"About what the mother of Thuso said, I agreed with her. I agree because for me Thuso is a good guy. Thuso in good hands and with a good motivation he is a player who can still play two years.

"If you look at [Thabo] Matlaba, you saw what happened. You saw that last time he has been included in the national team. It's a sign of professionalism.

"You know I'm sure and I'm still convinced that Thuso in good hands is a good motivator, is a hard worker. Coached by somebody who trusts him and would give him the confidence, Thuso can still play two years in the premier league in South Africa.

"But what the mother of Thuso said it's true. I know the quality of Thuso, I know the weaknesses of Thuso. About again Leopards, I don't want to talk about Leopards, I don't want to talk about what's happening there, about their decisions. What is in Leopards remains in Leopards.

READ: 'Nobody around Thidiela knows anything'

"But for me the time when I was with Leopards, already I spoke with Thuso about the problem that he had, and the performance that he was bringing to Leopards before I came. I told him I knew from where there was a problem.

"Then he started to work very hard, he started to be more disciplined, started to be very, very serious. And the eight or the nine games that I coached at Leopards I think Thuso had six or seven very good games. Two bad games.

"So for me Thuso was very good, very serious, very committed. He was really adding value to the team despite people thinking he has not to be in the eleven."

Leopards are now operating with Alan Clark as head coach following Eymael and Johnson, and were bottom of the Absa Premiership log when the PSL was suspended with six games remaining.

READ: Top players clamour for Leopards exit

"I don't want to talk about anybody, certainly about any other coaches who have been there. But the work is already talking and the performance is already talking better than the words you know," Eymael adds.

"And since last time, I followed the line-up of Leopards several times... when you start to put Matlaba right-winger in place of putting him right-back or left-back it creates a problem you know. You are no more playing on the quality of the player.

"From where the orders are coming from? It's not my problem [anymore]. But all these things certainly contributed to the bad results of Leopards.

"Thuso Phala is a good player, very, very good player. I don't say that he will still be able to play at Chiefs, Sundowns, Pirates, no no no. I will say that guy could have helped teams like Polokwane, Leopards, Celtic... all these teams of the middle of the table.

READ: No.10 joins Phala at Leopards exit door

"The goalkeeper [Jonas Mendes] who is now injured was playing very well before I came, everybody wanted to put him out of the team... but let's come back to Thuso Phala. No really, he was very serious. He was like Matlaba giving advice [to other players]. And yes, for me what happened to him is unfair, that's my thinking."