S'Busiso Mseleku

Sundowns took the cup, but the Iron Duke took the cake

2017-02-24 11:49
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

Mamelodi Sundowns beat all odds and eventually came of age, fulfilling the long yearning of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe last Saturday.

For those who might have just crawled out from under a rock somewhere, the Brazilians beat DRC giants TP Mazembe - three-time back-to-back Super Cup winners - 1-0 - to be declared the African "super" champions.

However, while we were still scratching our heads and scampering around in search of proper superlatives to use in the same sentences as Bafana Ba’style, the Iron Duke of South African football, Irvin Khoza, proved once more what a wily, shrewd administrator he is.

After a lot of speculation that erupted since the unceremonious departure of Muhsin Ertugral in November last year, several names of possible replacements were thrown into the hat.

They included former player Benni McCarthy and a whole assortment of others.

Then last week, the name of Belgian coach Ronny Van Geneugden popped out of nowhere with a confirmation from his Spain-based agent Antonio Carlo that they were indeed talking to The Buccaneers.

By the weekend, the Belgian was reported as the man who was to be announced by Khoza as the new mentor in one of the hottest seats in South African football.

You see, Khoza had two weeks ago assured the hacks that he would make the long-awaited revelation on Monday this week.

However, Khoza pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat when he announced the name of Swedish coach Kjell Jonevret - whose name had not featured anywhere.

He went further and introduced former Sundowns great Harold “Jersey Queen” Legodi as the Swede’s right-hand man.

Once more, the Iron Duke had left most of us with some yellowish stuff called yolk all over our faces.

Those in the know say the Swedish coach only landed in this country on Sunday and Legodi only knew a few minutes before the press conference on Monday that he had landed the assistant’s job.  

But that is not the hardest part, in fact the job has just begun.

Pirates, who are celebrating their 80th birthday this year, are in stormy waters and it will take something major to steer them towards a calm part of the clear liquid stuff or H20 in science terms.

The coach was to be in charge of first game against Platinum Stars at the club’s spiritual home, Orlando Stadium, this coming weekend after being granted his work permit.

However, Jonevret is set to receive his baptism of fire next Saturday when he experiences his first Soweto Derby from the FNB dugout.

That will be the real test of his character.

This is the match that has made, but also broken, many coaches.

A win against Pirates’ bitter arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs usually counts more than winning the league itself.

We have seen many coaches survive being shown the proverbial door after clinching a win against Amakhosi even if other results were not going well.

We have also see coaches such as Gordon Igesund get the boot even after winning the league.

That is the story of Orlando Pirates and that is what Jonevret has walked into.

Only time will tell whether he is the Real McCoy or not, but he really does have his work cut out for him.

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 over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

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