When you have a large squad at your disposal, the general assumption is that rotation will be the order of the day, especially if you are competing on different fronts. But that’s not the logic around Chloorkop, the base of Mamelodi Sundowns.
The coaching trio of co-head coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena together, with senior coach Steve Komphela, are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting their squad but they always seem to select more-or-less the same team and ignore the rest of the players to the point that one forgets about that they are even Sundowns players.
Sure, Mngqithi cans claim to have used about 34 players this season, which is by far and large the most number of participants at Downs. However it still begs the question – why have a lot of players if you are going to have a core and shut out the rest?
In the build-up to the start of the current season, there was an influx of players who joined the club, some of which include Ricardo Goss, Peter Shalulile, Gift Motupa, Haashim Domingo, Grant Margerman, Aubrey Modiba, Mothobi Mvala, Lesedi Kapinga, Brain Onyango, and Jody February.
These players joined a squad that was already good enough to compete at the highest level, as the previous group delivered the La Decima (10th league title) paired with the Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup. The Brazilians have played about 28 games across all competition this season and to the load has been carried mainly by the same players. Lebohang Maboe, Ricardo Nascimento, Peter Shalulile, Denis Onyango, just to name a few, have been constant figures this season.
Perhaps the coaches are leaning more towards the age-old phrase; don’t fix it if it is not broken. At the same time, what message does it send to youngsters February and Margerman who were playing regularly at Ajax Cape Town (now known as Cape Town Spurs). What about Aubrey Modiba? Is he going to become another case of a transfer gone wrong. Did they lure him from SuperSport United only to reduce him to a sporadic player?
The club captain Hlompho Kekana is another player who has been reduced to a spectator for most of this season, even though he does come off the bench and get a rare start once in a while. The danger of freezing out some players is that you risk overloading those who are always selected and they subsequently go off form, just like Themba Zwane and Thapelo Morena.
Also, you run the risk of a revolt and creating factions within the team. The cases of player-power are well-documented and that is something “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” would not want to deal with.