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Downs’ Mokwena: What do Ncikazi’s Woolworths comments say to Pirates’ players?

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena.
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena is wondering how Orlando Pirates players took the comments made by their co-coach Mandla Ncikazi last week when he said competing with Sundowns is impossible because of the Pretoria giants' buying power.

The Brazilians are on the verge of winning a treble in the Premier Soccer League after clinching a fifth successive DStv Premiership title last week to add to the MTN8 they won early in the season.

Sundowns defeated Royal AM 2-1 in their semifinal in Durban on Saturday to qualify for the Nedbank Cup final where they’ll meet Marumo  Gallants at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on May 28.

Ncikazi had made the analogy that Sundowns shop at Woolworths while Pirates shop at Spar and Pick n Pay. 

Ex-Pirates coach Mokwena said he is concerned how Ncikazi’s statement will be viewed by some of the “sensitive” players at Bucs.

“For me the biggest thing is what does it say to his own players? I know the Pirates players because I worked with them, and I don’t want to say much about it,” Mokwena said.

“I don’t want to go into that space. It’s a difficult comment to make and maybe he’s got his own logic why he made that comment and maybe it’s for the media to interrogate that statement.

“You must ask what he means by that because, to be honest, if you’re a Pirates player and you hear something like that I’m not sure how you’ll react.

“I know those boys well and how sensitive they are. I don’t want to talk about it and maybe it’s for coach Mandla to expedite the statement a bit more.”

Ncikazi made his comment after Bucs, slipping in their challenge for second place, were held to an unconvincing 0-0 draw at home to Chippa United on Wednesday evening. That afternoon Sundowns had drawn against Cape Town City to clinch the title.   

The Pirates' coach suggested financial fair play rules might level the playing field in SA.

“I think the financial fair play rules have to come into effect and we must cap their finances because Covid-19 has affected a lot of teams — whether it’s supporters, in terms of revenue, but Sundowns have not been affected,” he said.

“Some teams are playing with development players, getting young players. Most developments were closed, Safa [the SA Football Association] was closed but Sundowns buy at Woolworths and we buy at Pick n Pay and Spar. If Spar and Pick n Pay are closed we can’t buy.”

Fourth-placed Pirates meet second-last TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Monday (3pm). Sundowns face 10th-placed Sekhukhune United at Ellis Park on Tuesday (5.30pm).

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