downs and out

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Ted Dumitru is hoping to bring the richly assembled but under-performing Mamelodi Sundowns back on track.

This was what the Romanian-born coach told Sowetan shortly after he was given the demanding job of caretaker coach at Chloorkop yesterday, the same day head coach Henri Michel parted company with the Brazilians.

The highly decorated Frenchman failed dismally as Downs coach since his appointment in November.

The final straw was the side's exit from the prestigious Nedbank Cup at the hands of Premiership strugglers Platinum Stars. They lost 1-0 in extra time at Super Stadium on Sunday.

Their exit from the cup came a few days after a humiliating 1-4 defeat at the hands of city rivals SuperSport United in an Absa Premiership match, leaving their title hopes in tatters.

Michel left the stadium in an armoured police vehicle on Sunday after a section of peeved MaSundawana attempted to storm the field, baying for his blood.

Downs said yesterday they reached a gentleman's agreement with Michel terminating his services as head coach.

He was reported to be drawing a salary of about R760000 a month.

Dumitru, who will be assisted by Brian Baloyi and Michael Manzini as player-coaches, yesterday attributed Michel's failure at Downs to his lack of knowledge of southern African football.

He said the French coach also let himself down by overlooking local coaches at Chloorkop.

"We had the likes of Trott [Moloto] and he should have engaged him but didn't.

"He chose his own assistant who, unfortunately, was clueless about football in the region," said Dumitru. He added: "The players could not get the desired results because they lacked enthusiasm and confidence, and I will meet them in two days to find out why."

Dumitru, who steered Sundowns to league championships in the 1998-99, 1999-2000 seasons, would not say if the Brazilians can still win the title this season.

He also said he did not harbour hopes of coaching the team next season but will continue with his job as executive technical director.

Club president Patrice Motsepe said on the Sundowns website: "I want to thank Henri Michel for the commitment and loyalty he showed to Sundowns while employed as its head coach.

"Henri Michel made a huge contribution to the standard and quality of football at Sundowns and in South Africa.

"We wish him all of the very best in his future endeavours," he said.