Soccer Scene: Three Musketeers prove doubting Thomases wrong

Johannesburg – I must admit today I’m compelled to be submissive and eat humble pie, begrudgingly so, though.

And that humble pie, or rather pies, must be served by none other than Mamelodi Sundowns’ trio of head coaches – Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rhulani Mokwena – for me to gladly enjoy them.

I, however, prefer them to be savoury, I should insist.

It’s in proper order to admit I was one of the fi rst people critical of the arrangement of having three knowledgeable coaches jointly heading one of the most successful and biggest clubs in the country’s football history.

At the beginning of the 2020/2021 PSL season, I predicted catastrophe and disaster at 2016 CAF Champions League headquarters in Chloorkop.

A lot was expected of the three coaches when they were appointed to the hot seats at the beginning of the season, although Mngqithi and Mokwena were already “in the area”.

The joint head coaches’ duties and tasks are carefully divided to avoid trampling on each other’s territory.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 20: during the Nedbank Cup, Semi Final match between Golden Arrows and TS Galaxy at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on April 20, 2019 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

To say the three coaches are working harmoniously could be an understatement, they are working incredibly successful judging by the positive results in domestic and international competitions.

A lot was expected of them, with many football fundis predicting a disastrous clash of coaching ideas and expertise during training sessions and on match days, during starting lineup selections, substitutions “and so on and so forth”, to quote the late apartheid minister of Bantu Aff airs Piet Koornhof, when he made false promises to poor black people.

The equal status coaching set-up was seen as unworkable, especially when it was announced that former Golden Arrows and Kaizer Chiefs coach Khompela would be a “senior” coach but report to Mngqithi and Mokwena, despite the Three Musketeers being co-coaches.

No doubt, many were left stupefied by the arrangement but to say what mining mogul Patrice Motsepe, the newly elected and first CAF president from an Anglophone country, did was a master stroke, is also an understatement.

Sundowns are unbeaten in the CAF Champions League after humbling three of their opponents, African football powerhouses Al Hilal, CR Belouizdad and TP Mazembe to lead Group B.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 31: Rhulani Mokwena (Head Coach of Orlando Pirates) during the Orlando Pirates press conference at PSL Headquarters on October 31, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

They go into the fourth round of matches on Tuesday against Mazembe from the DRC, who suffered their first defeat at home in a decade. In the DStv Premiership Downs are riding the crest of the wave against second-placed surprise league title chasers Golden Arrows, challengers Orlando Pirates third and SuperSport United fourth with games in hand for the Tshwane giants.

Kabo-Yellow are in the quarter- finals of the Nedbank Cup after walloping second tier GladAfrica Championship outfi t Polokwane City 4-0.

Sundowns are on course to defend their cup competition title after setting up a date with Pirates in the last eight round, following their historic treble triumph and 10th league honours – the “La Decima” – last season.

SA’s richest man Motsepe, Forbes said he was worth a staggering R31-billion six years ago, made a few promises.

One of them was he would turn the Brazilians into one of the best clubs on the continent and in the world.

It seems he is fast realising that dream. I am waiting anxiously for my savoury but “humble” pies from Mngqithi, Komphela and Mokwena.

Xolile Mtshazo

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