Sikhakhane manages Eagles expectations

The former Chippa United mentor took charge of Eagles when they were struggling under Serbian mentor Kosta Papic in February, and managed to steer the side to a ninth-place finish in 2017/18.

Ambitious Eagles boss Sbu Mpisane will hope that Sikhakhane can emulate his heroics at the now-defunct Thanda Royal Zulu, who he saved from relegation in 2015/16 before guiding the club to NFD honours two years ago.

Since buying Sivutsa Stars' franchise in 2014, Mpisane has signed PSL players such as Mbulelo Mabizela, David Zulu, Mame Niang, Khethokwakhe Masuku, Katlego Mphela and Dominic Isaacs, and appointed coaches like Papic, Khabo Zondo, Vladislav Heric, Zipho Dlangalala and Allan Freese with the dream of achieving topflight status, which has so far eluded him.

When asked if he could do what he did at Thanda at Eagles, Sikhakhane said: “That is another page. You are talking about two different clubs, but we’ll see where what we are doing currently will take us.

“As a team we are getting there. We are in the third week [of pre-season]. We’ll see when times goes by how things are shaping up when we play competitive games. That is where you judge if your season is on track.”

Eagles will meet fellow NFD side Uthongathi FC in the KZN Premier's Cup quarter-finals at KwaMashu’s Princess Magogo Stadium looking to win the pre-season tournament for the third year in a row.

Sikhakhane, however, insists it is not a priority to defend the trophy.

“We’ll see, we’ll see. I don’t think there’s that priority to defend it,” Sikhakhane reveals.

“But if the chances are there to defend it then we’ll go for it. But we don’t want to throw undue pressure, because there are so many things we want to achieve this season.”

Meanwhile, Eagles have recruited Lungelo Dlamini on loan for the season from AmaZulu, while they are assessing former Platinum Stars goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela, ex-Chippa United and Stellenbosch FC midfielder Strydom Wambi, and Lesvin Stoffels, who was previously at Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC.