Pretoria – Teko Modise has admitted that the captain’s armband was too heavy a burden to carry and is pleased that it has been passed on to big Dutchman Alje Schut.
The Mamelodi Sundowns attacking midfielder feels he can now play with more freedom and less pressure, knowing he does not “have to be responsible for other people”.
“The armband did not make me a better player and it also did not make me a bad player. It’s that it had pressure,” the former Orlando Pirates midfielder said.
“Not being captain makes me focus and really enjoy the game. It was an agreement we had in the team and it was good for me and I feel it went to a better player. Alje is experienced, so he will be able to guide other players. I still feel I am part of the team and have a role to play.”
Usually the centre of attention and the star at Sundowns, Modise has taken a back seat while new signings Bongani Zungu, Khama Billiat and Dove Wome shine in midfield for Pitso Mosimane’s side.
Modise may have started most of Sundowns’ matches thus far in the campaign, but he knows it will be difficult to hold down a place in the starting line-up as the season progresses.
He however is more concerned about the club doing well in the league this season after finishing outside the top eight last season.
“The competition at Sundowns is always high. Every season there are new players coming in, but fortunately the players signed this season are doing very well. I think we are going in the right direction. Pitso identified the players he wanted and had his own vision that he shared with us.
“He signed every player for a reason, hence we are playing differently. We have players who can play in all types of systems, which is what we want because when the going gets tough, we know we have players who can help the team. Everybody is happy and we hope it continues in the games we play. There is depth,” Modise said.
Sundowns players have wasted no time in combining well and have taken the team to second place after five matches.
Modise is not surprised how quickly the players have gelled.
“The guys who have joined the team have been playing in South Africa, so they are used to the style of play and culture. They adapted quickly and we welcomed them the first day they joined. We are working well as a group and supporting each other.”
The big spenders have made a much better start to last season when Dutchman Johan Neeskens was in charge.
“We started very badly last season and we did not even finish in the top eight. This season we’ve looked at what we did wrong last season. The problem with the team is that we were not consistent. We are doing very well at the moment and we want to keep up with the momentum.”
Sundowns face Bloemfontein Celtic in the Telkom Knockout first round at the Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium on Sunday, hoping to redeem themselves after a loss in the final against the Free State side in the same competition last year.