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Football | South Africa

David Thidiela © Gallo Images

Romanian appointed Leopards coach



Black Leopards Managing Director David Thidiela has made his intentions of returning to top flight soccer crystal clear by hiring highly experienced Romanian born coach Mario Marinica and appointed Innocent Mayoyo as his assistant.

At the OR Tambo International airport to welcome the coach on his arrival on Sunday, Thidiela said he has been greatly impressed by the experience of the Romanian after he was recommended to his club and appointing Mayoyo was due to the fact that the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper has proved himself as a specialist in the National First Division.

"He is a very young man but brings with him modern and fresh ideas," said Thidiela about the 44-year-old coach who has coached countless clubs in Romania and England where he has spent 17 years and obtained a Uefa Coaching badge to become one of the most sought after youth coaches in his homeland and in England.

"I am confident that his combination with Mayoyo will bear fruits," continued Thidiela. "I will be more hands-on this year than I had been in the past. I have asked him to sit down with Mayoyo and together to come up with a plan. I will give them all the necessary support to ensure they succeed."

Marinica is a highly qualified, experienced and ambitious coach, with a proven track record of developing young talent. He has coached at Romanian clubs Sportul Studentesc, FC Gloria Buzau, Arges Pitesti, Rocar Bucuresti, and Cimentul Fieni.

In England, he has worked at Crystal Palace FC and Arsenal FC's Academies as well as Leyton Orient FC's School of Excellence. His playing career included spells at Rocar Bucuresti, Dinamo Bucuresti and Steaua Bucuresti.

His coaching career commenced in 1993 at Leyton Orient FC. In a varied coaching role, he directed "Football in the Community" courses, and developed players both at the School of Excellence and first team; working closely with Grant Cornwell, John Sitton and Chris Ramsey.

From 1999 to 2001, Marinica was a coach at the Arsenal FC Academy, primarily in charge of the under-15 team. During this period, as part of an exchange programme, he spent a short time assisting Massimo Pedrazzini within the technical department of Inter Milan.

During 2002-3, he became a development coach at the Crystal Palace FC Academy. He managed the U15 side, and coached from U14 to U19 levels.

He worked with a number of players who have since turned professional and received International honours: Wayne Routledge, Gary Borrowdale, Ben Watson, Tom Soares, Sam Togwell, Lewis Grabban, Rhoys Wiggins, Andrew Julius, David Hunt, Gavin Heeroo, Teerathep Winothai, Will Antwi and Craig Dobson.

His coaching and Coach-Educator expertise have been used to help develop their Uefa-A and Uefa-B licence coaching courses. He has also consulted on player development programmes for the U16 through U21 teams. He coordinated the 2006 visit to Romania of Howard Wilkinson.

He has been employed by Hertha Berlin, Watford FC, Stockport County FC and Notts County FC for scouting and technical analysis of forthcoming adversaries. He has also been employed to assist Romanian clubs Steaua Bucharest and Dinamo Bucharest in preparation to face English opposition in European competition.

His unsurpassed tactial analysis provided the basis for Steaua Bucharest's defeat of Middlesbrough FC and Dinamo Bucharest's 5-1 defeat of Everton FC in the Uefa Cup. It was the first time Everton FC had conceded five goals in European competition.

During the 2006 Fifa World Cup, he assisted the Paraguay national football team, providing technical analysis of their group B rivals: England, Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago.

From 2005 to 2007, he completed the Uefa Pro Licence with the Irish Football Association, graduating alongside him were Chris Coleman, Jim Gannon and Bernard McNally; among others.

Ironically, his introduction to South African football was through Jomo Cosmos at the Milk Cup tournament where he bumped into Youth coach Roy Matthews who informed him about the vibrant domestic soccer scene.

"I said to him I may work with him in South Africa one day," joked Marinica, "and here I am in South Africa!"

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