Mark Gleeson

Sundowns back in contention

2011-03-07 07:12
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Writing off Mamelodi Sundowns’ championship chances just weeks ago has come back to haunt those coaches and pundits who felt the Brazilians had plummeted past the point of no return.

Instead it has proved some of a prodigal comeback, their revival instigated by the return from his self-imposed exile of Katlego Mphela.

By rights, if Sundowns had any honour he wouldn’t be playing but since when has there been any honour in football anyway.

Mphela staged his own stay away in order to force a transfer, when not long before he had been happy to sign a new contract with the club and pocket a handsome salary.

A contract is not only legally binding but should be morally too. If you do a deal, shake someone’s hand and reap the rewards then you are honour bound to stick to the terms.

Mphela felt there were extenuating circumstances, and maybe there he was right, but Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe proved expediency rather than principle is his guiding light by agreeing to allow the striker back.

Of course he was desperate because Sundowns were falling out of championship contention in a run of poor form that led to the departure of coach Antonio Lopez.

Mphela has since provided Sundowns with an incredible lift that is almost if they have come a one-player club.

His acceleration and scoring skills suddenly have Motsepe’s team right back in contention and with as good a chance of any of taking the league title.

For all the millions spent on the other squad members, how ironic it is that one has been the catalyst for this resurrection.

Surely, Mphela has increased his transfer value now and so it will take even more to get him away to his dream of another overseas move.

Sundowns were not prepared to let him go cheaply in January – the crux of the standoff – and will certainly now be even more reluctant to part cheaply with such an obvious asset.

Mphela playing again is good news for Bafana Bafana and the upcoming game against Egypt but speaks nothing about the character of all of this involved in this public relations debacle.

I suppose we’ll all be guilt of hypocrisy if we are to cheer any goal Mphela might score for the country but it all just goes to prove that at the end of the game winning is all the matters.

How you get there should be a source of pride but the past history of South African soccer history is so filled with sordid efforts to win at all costs, never mind rules, regulations or just plain fair play, that rare cases of sporting decency are hard to come by.

I have discovered one, however, I’d like to share and celebrate. I heard Vasco da Gama had been offered some R250 000 by the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality to shift last week’s game against Kaizer Chiefs to the windy city’s World Cup stadium.

Vasco would not only have got the ash inducement but also shared half the gate takings with the council.

But they turned a very attractive deal down because they wanted desperately to gain some points and felt their sporting cause was best suited by staying in Cape Town and sticking with what they were used to.

Maybe they thought another windy day would unsettle Chiefs but instead there was no wind that night.

But cash-strapped Vasco did, nevertheless, get a point in a plucky draw and achieved their objective, even if they could have made a lot more money by taking the game to Port Elizabeth.

Read more on:    psl  |  katlego mphela

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With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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