PITSO Mosimane has begged for understanding from Mamelodi Sundowns supporters and more time to complete the multimillionaire club’s renaissance.
The coach wants to change the way things have been done in the past and key to his grand plans is a new youth policy – something that has been foreign to cash kings Sundowns. There will be no more record-shattering salaries or over-inflated signing fees and no more dubious unlimited shopping sprees.
This comes a week after Mosimane revealed plans of a major clean-out at the club in the off-season, which has put players under pressure to justify their presence at Chloorkop.
“I’ve only been in here for four months … I’ll get it right, give me time,” said Mosimane, who took over from temperamental Dutchman Johan Neeskens last year.
“When I took over every team was above us [on the log] and we’ve moved away [from the drop zone] a little bit and got a bit of a breather. I haven’t bought a player; these are the same players I found here.
“I don’t want to go the same way that it has been for the last five years – buying players not knowing why you’re buying them.
“We are going for younger, hungrier players and paying less wages. We are changing the team but we ask for Sundowns people to understand our change of model.”
The former Bafana Bafana coach says he wants to give every player a chance to prove himself but, as seen in the 0-0 draw with AmaZulu in Durban on Sunday, that move comes at the cost of league points.
“I am not rotating to give players a rest,” Mosimane said. “I have to give a chance to the guys who haven’t had a chance to play, so that I can assess them at the end of the season. You can’t give assessment when you don’t give people a chance.
“Unfortunately, I’m doing it at the expense of the team, whereas we need results, we need points and we need to be consistent. Sundowns supporters want a win and they want it now.”
It is degrading for a club with lofty ambitions like Sundowns to lower their targets to a mere place in the top eight and for the them to be struggling to achieve this task is even more demeaning.
But such is the consequence of multiple coach changes over the years, failure to implement proper youth structures and using money as a solution to every problem.
“We are going through a slump and you must understand that it happens to all teams,” Mosimane explained.
“Don’t forget it has taken Kaizer Chiefs seven years and they have not yet won the league. But when everybody writes, they write about Mamelodi Sundowns being big spenders and without a trophy in the cabinet for the last five years. They are right but it’s a process.
“Yes I still see us making it into the top eight because not many people ahead of us are winning, some of them are losing. There are less points to play for but … there is still an opportunity, we’re only five points away from the top eight. Let’s see what happens.”
If newly signed Cheetahs centre Johann Sadie continues to believe his own hype, he will forever live in that precarious and ever contracting space between potential and greatness. A second chance awaits him in Bloemfontein but, like with most things in life, there is no guarantee of first team action.
How did a talented SA under-20 player, who had featured in all provincial and national age-group teams since under-12, end up clubless and so desperate that he was willing to settle for a pay cut at a union that battles to finish in the top half of the Super Rugby table?
Many would have thought by now that Sadie would be basking in the delight of being the first Springbok cap recipients under the Heyneke Meyer era with the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Jacques Potgieter.
Why did he suddenly leave the Bulls, a hugely successful union domestically and internationally, barely six months into (what was supposed to be) a lucrative contract.
To understand Sadie’s conundrum, you must first understand his time at Western Province and by extension, the Stormers.
At Newlands he was the brightest young spark waiting in the wings of the one of the greatest Springbok centre pairings – that of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie. His first team game time was therefore limited in Super Rugby but during the Vodacom and Currie Cups he was often the star of the show.
I remember a game between the Stormers and the Blues in Auckland in which the 23-year-old, alongside Juan de Jongh, starred in a brilliant display to dispose of the then title challengers. If there is one game that can show you what Sadie can do, what the Stormers had been nesting him for, it is this one.
De Jongh, to make an example, waited patiently for the chance to establish himself at any of the two centre positions even when he had had a brilliant season standing in for De Villiers, who was playing overseas, in 2010. When De Villiers returned last year to partner with old pal Fourie, De Jongh was relegated to the cold bench. This year De Jongh picks himself onto the team.
But things didn’t go as planned for Sadie or moved as quickly for him as he would have liked. First team action at the Stormers seemed a distant pipe dream. It is rumoured that through the sheer ridiculousness of the nature of his demands when negotiation a new Western Province contract, including of course the guarantee of first team action, the union begrudgingly, yet necessarily, had to let him go. Someone even suggested he demanded that he not share a hotel room with a team-mate on tour.
And well, believing his own hype, he took a contract with the Bulls, which to be fair were in desperate need of a quality outside centre last year. Instead of blossoming, he has lived in the shadow of the lanky frame of JJ Engelbrecht, also a former Stormer.
Sadie claims the structures at the Bulls didn’t suit him therefore he had to force an early release on his two-year contract. If I was him, I’d have gone back to Allister Coetzee, apologised and asked for my old job back.
Few players who have ever really been something on the rugby field have never had to wait for their turn to own a position in the starting fifteen every week and as talented as Sadie is, he’s just going to bounce from one union to the next looking for “guaranteed game time”.
It will be interesting to see if Cheetahs fans will value the potential in Sadie over the commitment of local hero Robert Ebersohn (a player that plays his nads off every week on the grassless Bloemfontein Stadium pitch without expecting much in return but to put smiles on the rugby mad oupa’s)
Now we wait to see if Sadie’s expectations from the Cheetahs will be met or if he’ll meet theirs.
I say this almost like a friend from varsity who has just walked in on you while you’re lying face first on the concrete floor of your dorm after yet another night of binge drinking: Get your ish together man!
Or you’ll always be one of those kids we pub critics speak about that could have been Springbok greats but fizzled into nothing in the end. The country is crawling with those kids (and those pub critics by the way), we don’t need another one.
It is an absolute honour that the first thing this blog ever does is to salute two historical sporting achievements, achieved by some of the greatest carriers of our national flag – Hashim Amla and Ernie Els.
At the end of what was a dream South African sporting weekend, one can only be glad that Bafana Bafana weren’t involved in any action. Proteas batsman Hashim Amla broke the South African individual test score at the same time became the first man to post 300 runs in one innings. Ernie Els, or “Oh Ernie” as he had been known in the last ten years, won his fourth career Major, the British Open.
Amla took to the England attack, in the first test at Lords, with the panache of the surgeon he is. England strike bowlers James Anderson and Graeme Swann could not tempt the bearded Durbanite (who should compare notes with Lions captain Josh Strauss) into poking at a wide one. Amla’s batting has certainly matured. Remember when you could trap him with a straight delivery while he was dancing in front of his stumps during his first four innings in Proteas colours when he registered scores of 24, 2, 1 and 0? His plucky batting action also gave you the sense that he would tickle one outside off stump.
Amla scored his second ever test century against England at Lords in 2008. Four years and 13 more centuries later, Amla became the first South African to cross the 300 run mark; a remarkable achievement. He finished day 4 of the first test on 311 not out, helping SA to an innings and 12 runs win in the first test.
As the England bowlers have demonstrated, you can’t stray on Amla’s pads, you can’t give him width and you simply cannot get him out cheaply any longer. He has the concentration span of an eagle. It’s as if the Proteas have two Jacques Kallises. He’s that good. Who can forget his 253 not out against India in 2010, which he followed up with a 114 and a 123 in the second test match in Kolkata a week later?
Hashim Mahomed Amla deserves praise in the same way AB de Villiers is being touted as a future Proteas legend.
Ernie Els, meanwhile, made an astonishing career comeback to win his second British Open and his fourth Major overall after a period of lean years and quivering putting. The 42-year-old’s lowest point came at the beginning of the year. There are 19 ways to qualify for the US Masters, Ernie failed in all of them after dropping out of the top 50 golfers in the world. Ernie will toast to good times once more.
The Sharks’ dominant win over the Reds in Brisbane to book a Super Rugby semifinal date with the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend deserves a mention. JP Pietersen was talismanic. He scored his fourth try in his last five games, including internationals, and the only game when he didn’t score, against the Cheetahs, he created two tries. He was again involved in the Paul Jordaan’s try, the second for the Sharks.
When I argue with fellow scribes that he’s the country’s most complete winger, because of his experience gained while playing fullback in his career, I will whip out Saturday’s tape as further evidence.
What about Graeme Smith’s 100 in his 100th test? The Proteas captain is becoming LeBron James-like in rising above criticism.
There are only two types of South African cricket fans: those that are for Smith and those that are against him. He will surely win more fans towards his side with his bullying batting performance.
And then Jacques Kallis, as splendid as ever.