S'Busiso Mseleku

Point fingers at the players

2012-11-23 12:28
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) log paints a very interesting picture. That is if you are not a Mamelodi Sundowns supporter...

While the two other giants of South African football, Kaizer Chiefs and defending champions Orlando Pirates, occupy top spots, mega-rich Sundowns are propping up the table.

The story of Sundowns is quite an amazing one.

The club is the richest in the league, with the most expensively assembled squad and its players are the highest paid.

But they have only managed seven points from 11 matches, registering a single victory, four draws and a whopping six loses.

This does not do any justice to the amount of money mining magnate Patrice Motsepe has poured into the club.

There has been calls for him to fire coach Johan Neeskens and some hot-headed supporters have demanded that club officials Alex “Golden Fingers” Shakoane, Trott Moloto and Kenneth Makhanya be fired as they were accused of failing to run the club properly.

I tend to differ.

I think the fingers are all directed in the wrong place.

Having watched many of Sundowns matches, I think the players are the main culprits. They have let the club down. Their performances have just not justified the high salaries they are earning.

There does not seem to be any commitment there. Team spirit seems to be a foreign concept to them as they do not work for each other.

This is not a new problem in South African soccer. It has manifested itself over years as club bosses have been very trigger-happy, firing coaches willy nilly at the drop of a hat.

There have been very few - if any - incidents where players have been made to shoulder the blame for a loss or a string of losses.

As Peruvian Augusto Palacios always points out: “In South Africa, when the club wins people say the players are good. But if they lose, then the coach must go.”

For a long time South African soccer bosses have resorted to only one solution "fire the coach".

This has in turn turned the players into “The Untouchables”. They know that no matter what happens, there will be no repercussions for them. As the supporters’ darlings, all they have to do, is show up in their fancy, flashy cars, prance around while preening their feathers like peacocks and collect their fat cheques at the end of the month.


Some of them even gain enormous weight after joining a big club of their choice.

Clubs make coaches sign performance-based contracts but it would see this rule does not apply to the players.

When you look at Sundowns, the players have performed like a different team when playing in knockout competitions. They have given glittering performances while stuttering in league matches.

This could easily be for selfish reasons as they know that they collect hefty bonuses for winning trophies while the league takes up to 10 months, which would be a long period for them to abide by Neeskens' strict rules.

The arrangement at Sundowns is that only the silverware adorns the club’s offices while players and the technical staff share the prize-money equally.

In a nutshell, this means that Sundowns players are on the brink of sharing R4.24 million should they beat Bloemfontein Celtic in the Telkom Knockout Cup final on December 1.

Their league performance lends credence to the school of thought that they hope the coach will be fired before long, and then they will start winning, thus finishing in a descent position in the log under their preferred “soft” coach if they get their way.

They are actually playing their current coach out of the job.

This cannot be an acceptable approach and it is high time Motsepe showed who is boss and dealt with these overpaid spoilt brats.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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