By Hosea Ramphekwa
As expected, Mamelodi Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe bowed to pressure from his club's supporters by sacking coach Henri Michel on Monday.
The firing of Michel comes after Downs were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup by Platinum Stars at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville on Sunday. The 1-0 loss to Stars angered Downs fans as they caused ugly scenes calling for Michel's removal as coach. Motsepe was greeted by chants of "Michel must go!" as the Downs president left the Super Stadium through the help of a security escort on Sunday.
On Monday, Motsepe moved swiftly to replace the Frenchman with former Downs coach Ted Dumitru.
Dumitru will be assisted by Brian Baloyi and Michael Manzini until the end of the season.
Motsepe expressed gratitude for the services Michel rendered to his club since taking over from Trott Moloto five months ago.
"I want to thank Michel for the commitment and loyalty he showed to Sundowns while employed as its head coach," said Motsepe.
"Michel made a huge contribution to the standard and quality of football at Sundowns and in South Africa.
"We wish him all of the very best in his future endeavours and he will continue to be part of the Sundowns family," said Motsepe.
The departure of Michel, who was whisked away from the venue in a police vehicle on Sunday, marks the end of the agreement between the former Ivory Coast coach and Motsepe.
Michel had told Pretoria News in a previous interview that his agreement with Motsepe will continue after the end of the season but poor results brought a premature end to Michel's stay at Chloorkop.
Motsepe, who has seen his team's fortunes disappear into thin air this season, said Dumitru will return to the club's academy at the end of season. Dumitru, who guided Downs to two PSL championships, said he was surprised by his appointment as the interim coach.
"I had to respond to the call at this time of crisis. It did come not as expected. I mean to help until the end of the season," said Dimitru.
Dumitru was quick to shy away from promising heaven and earth. He said he would first work on getting the players in the right frame of mind.
"The main focus will be to rebuild the confidence of the players. If we don't address the mentality of the players nothing is going to change," said Dumitru.
Together with Moloto, Dumitru will assist the club's board to appoint a new coach who will take over for next season.
Michel's tenure at Sundowns has not been without controversy. Michel caused an outcry when he labelled the Downs players as "average".