McKop’s safe hands help out in SA

Pernell McKop is best known as one of the goalkeepers who deputised Bruce Grobelaar in “The Dream Team” – Zimbabwe’s fabulous national team that was coached by German-born Reinhard Fabisch in the 1990s.

Pernell McKop, Zimbabwe’s well-known goalkeeper from the 90s.
Pernell McKop, Zimbabwe’s well-known goalkeeper from the 90s.

Others remember him as the ‘safe hands’ that manned the goalposts for both of the PSL giants in Bualwayo – Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints, but very few would know that the giant former goalkeeper is still involved in soccer in neighbouring South Africa.

McKop, a staunch supporter of Barclays Premiership giants, Liverpool, has metamorphosed into one of the most-respected specialist goalkeepers coach in South Africa, where he has been involved with a number of clubs and academies.

McKop left his homeland and relocated to South Africa in 2004, where he assumed his new role.

“Since I arrived here, I have been working with Santos in Cape Town during the 2005/2006 and Freestate Stars in Premier League,” McKop told The Zimbabwean. “In 2006/2007, I worked with Johannesburg-based FC AK, which campaigned in the National First Division in Johannesburg, and in 2007/2008 I began my first stint with Maritzburg United, which campaigned in the FND’s Coastal stream then.”

The following season saw McKop join the just-promoted Bay United in Port Elizabeth.

“I also worked for The Old Mutual Academy and The Western Cape Sports School from June 2010 to October 2010. After that, I rejoined Maritzburg United, until recently, when I embarked on my own project.”

McKop has played a sterling role in his new career, helping clubs attain success. One of his protégés was catapulted to success during his stay at Maritzburg.

“The first time that I joined Maritzburg, they had just been relegated from the Premier League and when I went to the Club with head coach, Ian Palmer, and his assistant, Ashwin Sutton, we had to rebuild the team. With us were fellow Zimbabweans – goalkeeper Dominic Sithole and defender David Mkandawire,” he said. “We finished as champions in the Coastal Stream First Division and then went on to beat FC AK in the play-off final to ultimately gain promotion to the Premier League. The club later decided to bring in Gordon Igesund as the new head Coach and let us go.”

However, after apparently realising their folly, the club re-hired McKop when he left Bay United. He worked with German, Ernst Middendorp as head coach and Salli Adams as the assistant coach.

“We saved the club from relegation, as they were in last position when we arrived. They finished the season in 12th place. My goalkeeper, Shuaib Walters, was also selected for the South African national team in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a third choice goalkeeper.”

Still interested in the events back home, he is also worried about the corruption allegations levelled against some national team footballers in Zimbabwe.

“I have seen bits and pieces about these corruption charges following the National Team. It does not help with the reputation of the country as anything good or bad with the national team reflects on the country. It is not a good situation and it has to be cleared up as soon as possible,” added McKop.

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