Tlhopie Motsepe: Sundowns' coaching trinity ensured transition in life after Pitso
Mamelodi Sundowns' trio of coaches are the main reason the club transitioned smoothly into life after Pitso Mosimane, the Pretoria club's chairman Tlhopie Motsepe has said.
Tlhopie Motsepe, 32, has been tasked with the running of Sundowns while father Patrice completes his term as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
If that were not enough of a transition for the Brazilians, last season was their first post the bombshell departure of Mosimane — who won 11 trophies, including five league titles and the 2016 Caf Champions League at the club — for Al Ahly in September last year.
Many clubs internationally have crashed after a long-time, successful coach's departure - Liverpool in the 1990s post-Kenny Dalgleish and Manchester United in the 2010s after Alex Ferguson are notable examples.
Motsepe said it was mainly down to the coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela that Downs have transitioned smoothly so far after Mosimane's exit.
“I think all credit must go to the management staff, all credit should go to the structures that have been under the club for so long,” Downs' chair, speaking at the launch of the government's “Return to Play - it's in your hands” Covid-19 vaccination programme at FNB Stadium, said.
“Our coaches now who have stepped into that role worked alongside coach Pitso as assistant coaches. So coach Manqoba and coach Rulani really had been prepared for this role for a very long time.
“And it actually was a wonderful opportunity for us as a football club to bring South Africans to the fore again, and actually employ from within our ranks.
“So these men have become incredible icons and rolemodels for what South Africans can achieve in sports, and what our coaches can achieve.
“And then, with the inclusion, of course, of coach Steve Komphela, such an incredibly unique individual in sports on his own, it really is such a delightful mix of individuals. We were really lucky to have them, and I think they are the reason our club was able to manage this period of transition.
“But I would be remiss if I didn't include the incredible men of the technical staff. The technical team is still there and they do so much work behind the scenes.”
Mngqithi and Mokwena served as Downs' assistants to Mosimane. Along with ex-Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana stand-in and assistant coach Komphela, the trio wrapped up the Brazilians' 11th and record fourth successive DStv Premiership title in 2020-21.
Downs have begun with a win and a draw this league campaign, with a press report this week of discord among the three coaches.
Three such differing personalities are bound to have friction. The test in 2021-22 will be whether such inevitable clashes become insurmountable.
Sundowns, having already overcome a combination tipped as challengers to their league dominance - Stuart Baxter's new-look Chiefs — once this season on penalties in the MTN8, meet Amakhosi in a tantalising Premiership rematch at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.