Mamelodi Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane’s reckless comments are catching fire and continue to bring the Absa Premiership into disrepute!
I don’t know how I maintained my balance on my chair after a brief telephonic conversation with a prominent Sundowns supporter last week, Tuesday morning, hours before they hosted Chippa United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. “Everyone can see the league is pushing an agenda against our team. How can they expect us to play a game at 15h00 on a Tuesday afternoon? Who is going to watch the game at that time?” a question, from this unnamed supporter, that left me dazed and dumbfounded. It was at this stage that I realised the need to avert a potential danger of people getting misled and misinformed. If a prominent supporter believes this to be true, what about an ordinary supporter who is so far away from the club and therefore not up to speed with the happenings?
For the uninitiated, the fixture in question was brought forward in order to accommodate Sundowns, who had a flight to catch that evening, for their CAF Champions League semi-final first leg against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco. Now, was the league wrong? To whose benefit was this rescheduling between Sundowns and Chippa?
The so-called agenda comes on the back of coach Mosimane’s post-match interview after their 2-0 loss in the Tshwane derby against SuperSport United, which clearly broke the camel’s back. The former Bafana Bafana assistant coach was in his usual sarcastic form when he congratulated SuperSport on their “deserved win” before pointing out that his team had only come back a day-and-a-half earlier from a CAF Champions League commitment before facing their arch-rivals. What really got people talking was an insinuation that there’s a conspiracy against his team, to ensure that the league title goes somewhere else other than the Chloorkop base. “… let the league go where it is supposed to go… we know where it is supposed to go,” were the last words that Jingles concluded his post-match interview with SuperSport TV’s Phumlani Msibi with. Words that the league took exception to and labelled as “regrettable comments” in their subsequent and unprecedented press release.
It was a necessary move by the league to issue a press statement and set the record straight regarding the malicious comments by Jingles, as they have far-reaching implications on the league’s reputation and credibility. The bone of contention was the fixture congestion that the coach lamented, but what many would have thought was an open secret and something that would only take the brave to say, proved to be completely off the mark and therefore Jingles was caught offside. It took evidence of a simple correspondence between the league and Sundowns to prove that the league had done everything they could to accommodate Sundowns’ hectic schedule and bent over backwards to even accede to the club’s proposal to have all the games played at the club’s proposed dates. When the league released that information, it left a huge egg not only on Mosimane’s face but on that of Sundowns too, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that there was indeed no conspiracy against Sundowns.
The other point was the ineligible fielding of Sundowns defender, Wayne Arendse, against Bidvest Wits, which almost came back to haunt the Chloorkop-based outfit. The case dragged on for more than six months, until it was eventually finalised on Monday, and that’s largely due to the fact that everyone had to be given a fair trial and the club’s busy schedule didn’t allow for the expediting of the case as all parties involved reserved the right to exhaust their legal options before a ruling was made. Thankfully, Sundowns will not be docked any points for their discrepancy. The difference between this case and that of Bloemfontein Celtic, who were found guilty of failing to provide adequate security and causing abandonment of their game against Cape Town City was that Celtic pleaded guilty and didn’t drag the case. The match was forfeited to City with a 3-0 scoreline. Celtic were ordered to play their remaining home games outside Free State at venues to be determined by the league. If Celtic wanted to, they could have exercised their legal right to fight the ruling, but they didn’t and that resulted in a quick resolution. Different cases, different merits!
What is undeniable is the fact that Sundowns are the victims of their own success because, if they were out of the CAF Champions League, they’d be enjoying the same ‘rest’ Mosimane was complaining about being enjoyed by their competitors. However, “To whom much is given, much is required.” It is incredibly unfortunate that coach Mosimane, who has done so much for South African football, decided to take the easy way out and tried to shift the blame by making irresponsible insinuations that there’s a conspiracy against them, instead of rallying his troops to finish the job they’ve started. Can you imagine if Sundowns were to finish the campaign empty-handed, after working so hard at both the league and the continental interclub competitions? Would people not take Mosimane’s reckless statements as fact?
I know coach Jingles is a passionate student of the game, who hates losing, but sometimes it is best to plead the fifth than mislead the public through emotional outbursts and insinuations. One can’t tell me Mosimane wasn’t aware of the correspondence and arrangement between the league and his club, as he would have been one of the key figures in making such arrangements. If he wasn’t aware of the league’s support and the team’s proposal, then we have an even bigger problem than we seem to think.
Just this past weekend, Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt hopped on the bandwagon and fuelled Mosimane’s insinuations when Terrence Dzvukamanja’s shot went over SuperSport United’s goal-line, only for the goal to be dismissed. What was a human error on the officials’ side, mainly the assistant referee who was not right positioned, suddenly became the league’s ‘fault’. Interestingly, Hunt made no mention of Black Leopards’ legitimate 84th minute goal that was ruled offside against his side, a goal that could have turned the game on its head for Leopards.
A number of teams had their games postponed due to Sundowns’ CAF commitments, losing on their momentum, with Leopards going for almost a month without kicking a ball in a competitive match because they were also out of the Nedbank Cup. Chippa had to play on a Tuesday afternoon, instead of evening, to accommodate Sundowns. Anyone who’s involved in football will know the difference four hours of rest can make in a team, especially a few days after a tough cup game. You don’t hear anyone complaining about the fixture adjustments and consequences. Both Leopards and Chippa are fighting relegation, but they’re not making noise or excuses about it, because of catch-up games necessitated, in part, by the league’s decision to accommodate Sundowns.
What both Mosimane and Hunt are doing now is casting aspersions and showing disrespect to their colleague, Milutin Sredojevic and his technical team by undermining the hard work they’ve been putting on their team. They’re unwittingly telling everyone that, should Pirates win the league, they would have been handed it by the league and not earned it!