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Mamelodi Sundowns' 'crazy changes' - can they survive the shake-up?

12:45 GMT+4 09/11/2022
Manqoba Mngqithi & Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns, February 2021
The top dogs on the domestic scene have made significant changes to their coaching set-up recently. How will it affect them this season and beyond?

The Mamelodi Sundowns setup has been under a lot of scrutiny since a change of coaching structure was announced.

Following their 3-0 MTN8 defeat to Orlando Pirates, Rhulani Mokwena was made sole head coach, with Manqoba Mngqithi demoted to a ‘senior coach’ role.

Among those to question the wisdom of the changes was former Kaizer Chiefs, Bafana Bafana and Sundowns winger Josta Dladla.

“That's just crazy for me honestly,” Dladla told IOL. “This team has been dominating the domestic game for about years now with the same coaches with Komphela joining them recently and then with just one game everything changes.

“The management of the club probably expects a whole lot more from them but as a sports person, I know you can't win every game. For a team that's consistently winning, it becomes difficult to deal with loss but for me, there won't be any relative change because they have the same coaches around. Rhulani will probably do more of the talking if anything.”

Were the changes needed?

Sundowns had after all been doing pretty well under the co-coach system.

Since making the changes, Downs beat Maritzburg United 5-0 and Royal AM 3-0 - and so the club could argue that the right decision has been made.
Longer term though, things may work out different as there's often a new manager 'bounce'.

In Mokwena they have arguably South Africa’s brightest young coach who perhaps deserves the chance to go it alone and to take full responsibility.

In Mngqiti, Sundowns have a mature coach, seemingly without a big ego, and someone who is apparently okay with taking a lower profile role – he was also content to work previously as second-in-command to Pitso Mosimane for some time.

The problem?

But even if Mngqiti is okay with working under the more youthful Mokwena, Sundowns seem to have created themselves one major problem.

Because ever since he was demoted, there’s been speculation linking Mngqiti to the head coach role at other PSL clubs.

Teams may be hoping now that they can lure Mngqiti away with the promise of making him head coach.

And he may end up being tempted by one of these offers – potentially what Masandawana may have done, is to have effectively made Mngqiti more dispensable than he was.

Mngqiti was also key in ensuring that when Mosimane left, there was continuity within the squad and the club.

And should he end up leaving, his calm demeanor, wealth of experience and extremely astute football brain will surely be missed.