Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has questioned the consistency of Orlando Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi after he stated they buy players at Woolworths.
On Wednesday after the goalless draw with Chippa United Ncikazi suggested they are lagging behind Sundowns due to the depth the champions have within their squad – something he feels they were exposed for lacking amid a long list of injuries during the 2021/22 campaign thus far.
While he did acknowledge that he feels it’s just a matter of time until Pirates return back to their competitive selves and challenge Sundowns in the DStv Premiership, he stated the main difference right now is they buy ready-made players from Woolworths, while the Buccaneers – whom he claims were heavily affected by the pandemic – must be forced into shopping at Pick n Pay or Spar.
But Mokwena has questioned the statement citing the fact that the former Golden Arrows tactician said they were ‘on the same level’ in November last year while detailing that there’s more to Sundowns than just signing players or hiring specific coaches to lead the team.
“I’m not going to respond to what coach Mandla said because a couple of weeks ago I read one of your articles where he said Pirates is on the same space as Sundowns and then a couple of weeks later it’s Woolworths and Shoprite,” he said on Thursday.
“I don’t want to go there out of respect because you guys should be the ones questioning the consistency with the answers. It’s for the media, because what we say as coaches is very important in educating the supporters in trying to paint a picture closer to realism than obscurity.
“But if you ask what is it we’ve done, five championships in a row – you speak of different coaches with that five championships. You can’t go into that space without considering the hard work that was done by the previous technical team under the previous leadership.
“You speak of a different group of players because there are ones who won the first championship before it became the fifth in a row. You had Hlompho Kekana’s and [Tebogo] Langerman and so many others.
“Therefore, also without appreciating their contribution and hard work to where this club is and the brand that we see today, the respect the jersey now upholds and the pressure this current generation has to play under, is because of the previous generation and they have to be recognised for their contributions.”
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After waxing lyrical about the previous generation that set the foundation for their record-breaking exploits, he opened up on the other side of the football club that largely goes under the radar and is unnoticed.
“You now have a clear recollection of the fact that Mamelodi Sundowns and probably the biggest strong point of the club is unity and the quality it has in all spaces of the club, the amount of work that’s gone in to try and make the club a better marketable brand, an institution the wins football matches on the pitch,” he continued.
“A football institution that is led by good corporate governance, integrity and very good policies and that can only happen when you have really good leadership – they assist the club to fastrack its progress and to put it into a very good space.
“I’m not saying that’s not happening at other clubs but I know what is happening at Sundowns and that’s for sure, I think the greatest strength of the club, the hard work that’s put in behind the scenes in various departments and can not be attributed to just a singular individual, or group – it’s a collective that comes from the Motsepe Family to the groundsmen to the security at the gate and that’s the reality.
“That’s why you have the success and sustained success over the years even when there’s a change of playing or coaching personnel.”