Downs hire former Barca coach
Jacobus "Johan" Neeskens (AFP)
Johannesburg - Absa Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns will later on Tuesday unveil Johannes Jacobus "Johan" Neeskens as their new coach taking over the reins from Ian Gorowa who has been acting since the departure of Antonio Lopez Habas.
Habas was hounded out of Chloorkop by an angry mob midway through the season with Gorowa elevated to the hot seat on a caretaker basis until the end of the season. The Zimbabwean did well under pressure and came so close to winning the championship only to falter at the end and finish fourth.
The arrival of Neeskens closes the door on former Orlando Pirates coach Ruud Krol, who was among the favourites for the plum Sundowns job. Krol missed out as “domestic politics did not allow for such a move”.
The former Dutch international midfielder comes highly rated after working with renowned coaches like Guus Hiddink, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman at national team level between 1995 and 2000, notably at the 1998 World Cup in France. He also served as assistant to Rijkaard at Spanish giants Barcelona between 2006 and 2008. He briefly served as assistant coach for the Australian national team from 2005 to 2006.
Until recently, Neeskens has been serving as assistant to his old-time friend Rijkaard at Turkish giants Galatasaray from 2009 until 2010.
Neeskens’ club coaching career started in 1991 at Swiss club FC Zug, then he coached at FC Stafa (both in Switzerland) before moving to Germany side FC Singen.
As a player he boasts the distinction of having played for Ajax Amsterdam between 1970 and 1974 making 124 and scoring 33 goals. That attracted the attention of Barcelona, who signed him up from 1974 to 1979. He scored 35 goals in 140 appearances.
Of particular interest to the South African audience is the fact that he played alongside the likes of Jomo Sono at New York Cosmos between 1979 and 1984. The two became friends there and no doubt the Black Prince of SA football would have given him some heads up on the dynamics of SA football.
Neeskens becomes the second Dutch to handle Sundowns since Clemens Westerhof in 2000. Whether he matches the success and entertaining football of Westerhof remains to be seen.