Kagisho Dikgacoi is confident that the arrival of Mark Hughes will not negatively affect his future with Fulham.
Hughes has replaced Roy Hodgson, who has moved to Liverpool to fill the void left by Rafael Benitez.
The exit of Hodgson, who signed Dikgacoi from Golden Arrows a year ago, has cast doubt on Dikgacoi’s future.
But the South African – whose debut was marred by a red card – remains bullish about his prospects.
“Hughes does not know much about us. He started with the team on Monday. I have a responsibility to work hard. I came here to work and become a better player, no matter who the coach is.”
The Bafana anchorman had an injury-ravaged maiden season and was restricted to 12 appearances, a tally that might hamper his chances under a new gaffer.
“The past season was not one of my best and I am disappointed about that. I was expecting to play as many games as possible,” he said.
“I got a red card in my first match. During the course of the season I had an ankle injury that kept me out for seven weeks. I was starting to be a regular until I went out again. I just have to forget about it. There is a new manager and I am starting a new chapter under him.”
The fact that Hughes has experience working with South Africans at Blackburn Rovers might stand Dikgacoi in good stead. Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and Benni McCarthy played under Hughes during their time at Ewood Park.
Their names cropped up during a training-ground chat between the former Manchester City coach and the midfield strongman.
“He asked me about Aaron and Benni and wanted to know if we keep in touch,” Dikgacoi said. “I am not looking for favours. I don’t want him to judge me on how my fellow South Africans performed under him. But it encourages me that he understands the mind-set of a South African player.
“It was not a long chat and he did not say much. He spoke to the whole team, explaining that his aim was to improve us in aspects he felt we could do better. His area of concern is for us to be more offensive after winning the ball.”
Though admitting that he was sad to see Hodgson go, Dikgacoi is not pining for the manager.
“He is the person who brought me here and that will always connect us. He sent e-mails to all the guys, saying he was sad to leave the team. He thanked us for making him what he is now and for reaching the final of the Europa League.
“Having said that, I am not the coach’s boy. I have to make sure that I convince the new manager. I am not scared. If he does not like me, I will have to take it like a sportsman.”
Capped 34 times for Bafana, Dikgacoi is in his second and final season with Fulham.
“There is an option to extend for a third year and I don’t see why it won’t happen if I play as many games as possible.”
He will be among the walking wounded when he heads home tomorrow for the Bafana versus Ghana game at Soccer City on Wednesday.
“I tore an abductor muscle on the right leg. The doctor said I will be out for two weeks.”