Appreciate our local coaches more
Mamelodi Sundowns have managed to put themselves in a different space than every other team in South Africa, when it comes to their performances on the continent.
Pitso Mosimane. Pic: Gallo Images
Pitso Mosimane. Pic: Gallo Images
Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism
If you look at Bidvest Wits in the Caf Confederation Cup, they didn’t go through to the quarterfinals, and that is a lower level of competition than the Caf Champions League. But Sundowns went to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, winning their group with a 1-0 victory over Wydad Casablanca on Saturday. They are showing a dominance that sets them apart from their peers, they are now really well-regarded on the continent.
When you are another team in Africa and you see the draw nowadays, you are looking to avoid the likes of Sundowns. That is a great moment for South African football, and more importantly it is great that it has been done by a local coach in Pitso Mosimane.
This is not to speak badly of foreign coaches, but if this was a foreign coach that was doing what Sundowns have, we would be lauding him like no one else. I do not think Pitso gets the credit he deserves. I am not his biggest fan when he flirts with being arrogant, but you have to respect and admire Sundowns as a team.
I do think Sundowns will still be determined to do well in the Absa Premiership, even if Kaizer Chiefs keep on winning, because the priority for them is to play in Africa, and you qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top two in the Premiership. So there is no way they will take their foot off the pedal domestically. As much as they are doing well in this Champions League, they also won’t want to miss the next one. So it is imperative they finish in the top two.
As for Orlando Pirates, who are also competing for the top two, you would expect a new coach like Josef Zinnbauer to come in and have a honeymoon phase. You would think that for the first two games players would be fighting for their opportunity, people would be buzzing, and then the team would default a bit back to normal. But something different has happened in the Pirates camp, there is something the coach has really brought in that has seen the players buy into whatever he is selling. When he speaks, he speaks about togetherness, I think after playing and beating Sundowns, at a packed stadium, Zinnbauer understood just how big Pirates are in South Africa, and he is doing the right things. He has not really changed the identity of Pirates.
If you look at Cape Town City under Benni McCarthy and Pirates under Milutin Sredojevic, these were two teams that played some of the best football in the country. The changing of guard at City now sees them not as quick on transition or as comfortable starting play from the back. But Pirates are the same Pirates, they can start play from the back, and they are dangerous when they get space behind a defence. The new coach is a brilliant acquisition…and he is introducing players slowly.
Siphesihle Ndlovu is getting more of a chance, Paseka Mako has got his chance, and now Bongani Sam is also getting an opportunity.
I am sure Augustine Mulenga will also come to the party soon, while Vincent Pule came off the bench, did a good job and is now in the starting line-up.
Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits