I had a laughing – then coughing – fit when fellow scribe and soccer analyst Tso joked that Mamelodi Sundowns were “Dikhothane tsa Pitori”.
Now if you have just landed from Mars, let me explain: Izikhothane is a group of youths practising a vile trend of buying expensive material – clothes, food, anything you can think of- mostly with money given to them by their parents and they go about destroying it as if it were worthless. The other day they were tearing R100 bank notes for kicks.
Well, the Motsepe Foundation (I guess not content with spending millions on under-performing players) hosted a concert in East London a day after Sundowns’ 1-0 Telkom Knockout final defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic. Now I’m sure that the concert was organised months before the final but why does it appear like the Sundowns family are more adept at organising lavish parties [insert Miss Mamelodi Sundowns pageant here] than they are getting the bloody team to play good football?
I understand the need to grow the brand but what good will it do if the team is 15th on the Absa Premiership log?
Coach Johan Neeskens has put Elias Pelembe, who is rumoured to be among the highest earners in the league at over R300,000 a month, in the stands. If that’s not Izikhothane behaviour, I really don’t know what is.
Neeskens is reviled by the Sundowns fans. Though they’ve suspended their violent streak, thank God, they have no say in the club anymore. They are expected to buy their match tickets, go to the stadium, sit down and shut the f**k up – and then watch this bunch soiling the Sundowns jersey once worn by Roger Feutmba, Raphael Chukwu and Zane Moosa.
British football writer Henry Winter, of the Telegraph, wrote about Chelsea after their 3-1 defeat to West Ham on Saturday:
Their confidence is brittle, their second-half collapse at a crowing, bubble-filled Upton Park raising legitimate questions about their character as well as Rafa Benítez’s ability to motivate them.
Winter could have been talking about Sundowns and Neeskens during the Telkom KO at Moses Mabhida.
A friend of mine and staunch Downs supporter BBM’d me saying: “I feel like a housewife in abusive marriage. I keep hoping the situation will change but I get more beatings in return.” Sorry skat, I understand *bbm hug face**.
Here’s what I don’t get about Neeskens, which a number of tense conferences has failed to clear up. He doesn’t want to be challenged and he has no sense of consistency in selection. Holding mid Thamsanqa Sangweni went to Chloorkop will to fight for his place in the star studded team but was shafted after two brilliant performances in the 4-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs and 1-0 win over Chippa United beginning of the season.
It was the same with Edward Manqele. Why?
Elias Pelembe, one of Sundowns’ most gifted players, watches the games on television, like you and I. One week Richard Henyekane has been banished to Robben Island, the next he’s starting in the cup final.
Samuel Julies, no offense kid, is talented but too inexperienced for such a crucial midfield position in a cup final. Why couldn’t he have played Hlompo Kekana in a more advanced role in midfield? Was Kekana not the flavour of the month a few months ago, what has he done to warrant a permanent spot on the bench?
The first thing Neeskens did when appointed as Downs coach last year was get rid of the team’s best performer from the previous season, Matthew Pattison. That was the first sign of diabolical decision-making and egotism.
These are talented players, whose careers are wasting away on the sidelines whilst the man in charge berates his critics because they’ve “never kicked a soccer ball”. I’ll tell you what, Zane Moosa has kicked plenty a soccer ball but was not any less critical on television of the pathetic performance in Durban.
Neeskens is holding Sundowns at ransom; he knows that if the suits want to fire him, they’ll have to pay him out for the remaining three years of his five-year contract.
If Sundowns pick up some form, win the Nedbank Cup and finish in the top four at the end of the season I will eat these words along with humble pie and maybe also wear a hat written “Dunce of the season” for an entire day. If not, then Neeskens would have torn up more R100 bank notes than any of the Izikhothane delinquents can ever get their hands on.