In 2004, a certain gentleman with deep pockets by the name of Patrice Motsepe bought a 51% stake in his home town club Mamelodi Sundowns. Since then Sundowns have won, six league titles, four Nedbank Cups, three Telkom Knockouts, three MTN 8s, CAF Champions League title, and the disdain of every other human being who doesn’t support their team. Whoever said money doesn’t buy you success is either a liar or divorced.
Sundowns formula for success could be summed up in these three easy steps:
Step 1: Purchase or lure away your competitor’s best players. By doing so you are essentially making them weaker.
Step 2: Pay the said players an absorbent amount of money to ease the pain of sitting on the bench or in most instances in the stands.
Step 3: Release the player three years later when they can hardly kick a ball.
After Sundowns’ 0-0 draw with Baroka last night, Pitso Mosimane lamented his team’s “unfreshness” after their win over Chippa United on penalties in the Telkom Knockout last weekend.
“Difficult game for us, you could see we were not fresh. That 120 minutes took a little bit from us three days back and these guys weren’t playing,”
Comments like this make my eyes roll to the back of my head. Kaizer Chiefs also won their game on penalties, against an even tougher opponent in Orlando Pirates (well, kind of). They didn’t seem to have any trouble beating Chippa United 2-0, with their B team. Chiefs made eight, whilst Sundowns only made two changes to their starting lineup.
Pitso Mosimane, with all the riches of players he at his disposal, insists on playing the same players week in, week out, sometimes even three times a week when they have to play in the CAF Champions League. Ernst Middendorp, with only a fraction of the talent in his squad, rested his players last night for their derby game over the weekend.
Pitso Mosimane’s excuses have become stale. Mamelodi Sundowns have over 35 players in their squad. These include quality players like Oupa Manyisa, Emiliano Tade, and Anthony Laffor. These guys don’t even get the privilege of sitting on the Sundowns bench.
Ernst Middendorp is looking the like the better coach who can better use his squad.
“It was a match which was all about a win,” says Middendorp.
“We had a number of players who have not started in a match this season. If you think of Dumsani Zuma and Siyabonga Ngezana, they’ve always came in as substitutes.”
It seems as though this league title is either going to Chloorkop or Naturena. Pitso has a better collection of players but Middendorp has the edge in the way he uses them.