Teko - How 'The General' Evolved
Teko’s Greatest Challenge
Moody and temperamental are some of the words you could have used to describe Teko Modise during his final days at Orlando Pirates. At his best he was sensational – a real match winner who could clinch games on his own with acts of sheer brilliance. On off days he would be glaringly anonymous – a disinterested figure who appeared to be frustrated with the technical failings of his teammates. At times one would get the sense that he was madly infuriated that the players around him simply couldn’t get on his same extraordinary wavelength. A gifted attacking midfielder bursting with sparkling natural ability, but a troubled soul marooned in the PSL, possessing talents that belonged on a bigger stage with better players. For all of Teko’s wizardry in possession, he simply appeared to have no interest in helping his team defend. In fact, one began to wonder whether he even had the ability to tackle. When it came to a full blooded 50/50 challenge, you could almost bet your house that the then pampered prima donna was going to be the one to pull his foot out. Modise’s move to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2011 represented a chance for the ‘Navigator’ to redirect his own troubled trajectory. Yet, before that could happen, the talented young man from Meadowlands had to grow up. To evolve into a more complete box-to-box central midfielder, Modise had to learn to put the team first. This would be Teko’s greatest challenge…
How Pitso Maximised Modise
Perhaps the masterstroke of the league-title-winning campaign of 2013/14 was his use of the 57-cap Bafana star as a deeper lying playmaker. It was a clear gamble by Pitso. Would Teko make tackles and sacrifice his body for the team alongside Hlompho Kekana? Would he show a willingness to defend tirelessly and unselfishly? Given his so-called defensive laziness at Pirates, few would have believed that the player could pass this test. Yet, it was Modise’s influence at both ends of the park that saw Downs grab the Absa Premiership crown, giving a near perfect demonstration of what is required of a box-to-box midfielder during the club’s golden run to the title.
When Downs surged to the title largely because of Modise, he was the heartbeat of the team. His efficiency at both ends of the park echoed the days of a young Steven Gerrard for Liverpool. In arguably the most consistently top-class run of form in his entire career, Teko scored five goals in nine outings. His shooting accuracy rating was sublime at 53.33 percent. His passing numbers were also off the charts, with 80 percent of his passes reaching their target every time. Yet, it was in the defensive numbers where the one-time problem child had shown he’d truly grown up. With close to 10 interceptions and 3.1 tackles per game, Modise demonstrated a refreshing humility as well as defensive steel. Gone were the days of the isolated and depressed-looking Teko Modise on the pitch. Here was a player pos-sessed with the spirit of a warrior and a champion. It was a marvellous transformation that not many in the game could ever have predicted – the skilful kid from Soweto had become a leader of men…
A quality box-to-box midfielder is often the driving force behind a successful football team. He must be a complete player in how he attacks and how he defends. This feature was brought to you by Namaqua – We box the Best!