Johan Neeskens is not known as one of the more media- friendly coaches around and yesterday he started yet another altercation with reporters, telling them they had no basis to rebuke Mamelodi Sundowns because they had “never kicked a ball”.
A large media contingent assembled at Sundowns’ Chloorkop-base yesterday to watch them prepare for this weekend’s Telkom Knockout final against Bloemfontein Celtic and, after Neeskens had finished with the training session, he entered the conference room looking as grumpy as usual.
The Dutchman started calmly by pleading for “a bit of respect” for his side before spewing vitriol which prompted heckles and mirth, and even went as far as citing examples of reporters getting facts incorrect.
“I think you guys sometimes should give us a bit of respect … give credit where it’s due,” Neeskens said. “I make mistakes, and you criticise me for that. But who criticises you when you make mistakes? This is our second cup final in seven months. Not a lot of teams have managed to qualify for two finals in that period.”
Neeskens, of course, was referring to the fact that Saturday’s final against Celtic (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 8.15pm) would be his second this year following the Nedbank Cup defeat to SuperSport United in May.
But it is Sundowns’ terrible league form, which has plunged them into relegation trouble, that has attracted criticism of his side. Seemingly, such criticism does not sit down well with the usually stone-faced Dutchman, for whom even a forced grin is a rarity.
“You guys must also show respect to other coaches,” he stated. “About four weeks ago, Moroka Swallows were the best team in the country, winning some games but now that they are not winning, the coach is bad, their players are too old. You’re like the weather. When the sun is shining it’s all good and when it’s cloudy it’s bad. I don’t know how many of you have ever kicked a ball.”