Pitso Mosimane has at the end taken Mamelodi Sundowns to the promise land. Sundowns, called “Ka Bo Yellow” by its supporters ended a seven-year wait for silverware on Tuesday as they were crowned Premiership winners at Loftus Versfeld. Mosimane admitted later that he was ‘nervous on his way to becoming the first black South African coach to win the Premiership title.’
Many will remember that at the start of the season Sundowns was criticised for raiding the transfer market to practically sign a brand new team. It also didn’t help that with such a big name squad at their disposal Sundowns which was eight points clear at the top later were eleven points behind Kaizer Chiefs.
After playing their season’s closing game against Maritzburg United, Sundowns was presented with the league trophy and the R10-million cheque. As with Sundowns tradition, it is known that the price will be shared among all players.
There are many reasons that can be attributed to the success of Sundowns team this season. So, how did Mosimane get it right with a Sundowns side that has under-achieved for the past seven years? Here are some of the reasons that were noticeable.
The Coaching Staff
Sundowns boast names such as Manqoba Mngqithi, Trott Moloto and Alex Bapela among their coaching staff. Despite that, there was a time when things didn’t go well, and Mosimane had to plead with Mamelodi Sundowns fans to give him time to build a squad that would conquer the PSL. As it appears it turns out a season was only what Mosimane needed to turn them in champions after years of frustrations.
“We are the champions and we deserve it. For me winning the league is important for one’s CV. It was very difficult for me. I sat with the president (Patrice Motsepe) and told him we need a lot of changes in the team. I gave the vision to the board,” said Mosimane on a glorious night on Tuesday.
The Right Players
There’s no substitute for experience. Mosimane knew that very well when he recalled back some of the most experienced players during the early part of the second round. Players such as Anthony Laffor, Surprise Moriri and Lebohang Mokoena must have thought their time at the club was up when Mosimane signed over 10 players during the pre-season, but they were back in the team as soon as Khama Billiat and Bongani Zungu were lost to injuries.
In fact one of the most astonished recalls was that of the veteran Moriri. Having not started any game previously, Moriri featured in all ten of the last games which Sundowns have won on their way to reclaim the glory.
“The boys worked hard. The guys who started the season laid the foundation for some of the guys who finished the season and that’s all about teamwork. Pitso has been good. One thing about him, he’s the kind of person who understands the culture of the South Africans and everybody,” Moriri said.
The singing of a big Dutchman Alje Schut and later the Bloemfontein Celtic’s captain Thabo Nthethe should also be commented. In Schut and Nthethe, Sundowns have found two good leaders, which is what they desperately needed. Both are vocal and organizes the defence very well. In fact before Nthethe joined Sundowns, the club had kept one clean sheet. However, his partnership alongside Schut at the back was to become more solid with each game.
Teko Modise Factor
Mosimane has turned Modise into a workaholic in the Sandawana midfielder. There’s no doubt that Modise has enjoyed a superb season under Coach Mosimane.
Modise, the 31-year-old former Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009 began his career in the country’s top-tier at SuperSport United in 2006, before moving on to Orlando Pirates. Despite a stellar career in which Modise has earned over 50 caps for Bafana Bafana, appearing in the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the 2009 Confederations Cup and numerous World Cup qualifiers between 2007 and 2012, Modise had never lifted a Premiership title before now.
One certain fact is that Mosimane has rejuvenated the play-maker’s career and in the process, Modise has so far put himself in contention for a major award at the end of the campaign.
“Winning this title will change the rest of my life. I need to set new goals but, for now, I’m just going to celebrate,” Modise said.
By Shasha Seakamela