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The Forgotten Side Of Soccer 25/11/03
The last three weeks has seen a number of soccer coaches fired or change clubs. Most of those given the sack were accused of not delivering the results or of not getting the team to play the style of soccer demanded by the fans.

The movement of the coaches has been reported in the media, but what people forget is the players who came with the fired coaches.

In most cases, when a coach is appointed, he signs new players that he thinks will help him deliver the goods, but when the coaches are shown the door, the new players are left in the dark.

This was the case of Clemens Westerhof, the former coach of Hellenic Football Club, who was shown the door after picking up one point from eight games.

When the former Nigerian national coach arrived at the Greek Gods, he immediately identified the need for a quality striker, and so decided to give former Nigerian under-17 player Henry Okafa a chance.

SASoccer365.com journalist Francis Makoni spoke to the 18-year-old about the predicament he finds himself in since Westerhof departure.

The two-metre tall striker had been in South Africa for only two weeks and had not even kicked a ball when Westerhoff was fired.

"I came from Nigeria for trials with Hellenic, but things did not go according to plan. The week I arrived at Hellenic things were not going well - Westerhof was under pressure to win his next match or be fired. And the next game was against Silver Stars on the 8th of November and Hellenic lost 1-0," Okafa said.

Westerhof was then fired, but Okafa did not lose hope at that stage.

"I did not get disappointed after the management of Hellenic said to me that it will be up to the new coach who will decide my future at the club."

But it was at this stage that problems set in for the young Nigerian. Hellenic hired Neil Tovey to help lift the club off the bottom of the league table, and the former Sundowns coach decided that he wanted another midfielder in his team, not a striker.

Tovey then went ahead and acquired the services of veteran playmaker Ernest Chiwali, meaning that the Greek Gods reached their limit of having five foreign-based players in their squad.

"Since Hellenic had four foreigners already in their squad, they were looking to sign one more. When the new coach came, he was told about my case by the club but he said that he was not looking for striker, but a midfielder."

That spelt the end of Okafa's brief stay with the Landsdowne-based club. The youngster was no longer provided with accommodation by the club and was forced to seek a place to stay with fellow Nigerians he had met in Cape Town.

Okafa had originally been given a return air ticket from Lagos to Johannesburg, meaning that he had to raise the cash himself to get back to Joburg.

Despite all these setbacks, the youngster says that he is not disappointed with anyone, but that he is going back to his team in Nigeria and promised that this is not the last we have heard of him.



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