Mamelodi Sundowns are paving the way forward for SA football with Michael Loftman appointment

Tumelo Mailula of Sundowns celebrates with fans during the 2023 CAF Champions League match against Al Hilal at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

Michael Loftman's appointment as the new set-piece specialist at Mamelodi Sundowns augurs well for South African football. Seen here: Tumelo Mailula of Sundowns celebrates with fans. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Feb 15, 2023


Johannesburg - MICHAEL Loftman’s appointment as the new set-piece specialist at Mamelodi Sundowns augurs well for South African football.

Sundowns have been dominant this season and have a chance to claim a treble as they have all but wrapped up a sixth successive Premiership title, are in the Nedbank Cup last 16 and started their CAF Champions League group stage on a high.

Their dominance didn’t come courtesy of sheer luck. No! They’ve got statistics to back them up, including scoring the most goals and conceding the least in the league.

It’s probably safe to assume that Sundowns’ technical team, consisting of head coach Rhulani Mokwena, first team coach Steve Komphela and senior coach Manqoba Mngqithi have got a full grip of matters. So having too many cooks would potentially spoil the broth.

But not at Sundowns. They saw the need to bolster their team with Loftman, who at 33-years-old has been quite a journeyman across Africa, working in South Africa and Egypt.

Loftman’s appointment divided the football community, with some supporters feeling that his appointment was necessary, while others argued that it wasn’t.

If you follow the modern game, you would agree that Sundowns know what they are doing.

There is no way that Sundowns, who have been hogging the headlines for spending at free-will due to the unlimited resources at their disposal, made the appointment for fun.

The game has evolved so that coaches do not only require an assistant and goalkeeper coach to win silverware. They require backroom staff in almost all the departments.

This week, alone, there has been euphoria around SA as our very own Benni McCarthy has been getting plaudits across the globe for the sterling job he is doing at Manchester United as their forwards coach.

McCarthy has been bringing the best out of English striker Marcus Rashford, and United can now dare to dream of a top four in the Premier League this season and qualify for the Champions League next term – something they failed to achieve last season.

Back in SA, Orlando Pirates recently reintroduced the role of a striking coach, signing Scott Chickelday after initially trialling the role with Stephane Adam in 2018.

Chickelday lasted for just a month. But boy, he had SA talking as Pirates scored nine goals in four matches after his appointment.

While it was easy for the fans and experts to praise the Englishman, Pirates coach Jose Riveiro said there will come a time when there will be more coaching staff than players.

“The thing of having more coaches, in special positions, in the team will grow in future. It will not even be discussed. It will be the same custom of having a goalkeeper coach,” Riveiro said.

“I think we are also going into a situation where we’ll have more coaches than players in order to work jointly for the benefit of the team.”

That benefit is winning trophies. So having missed out on the African title for the last six years, Sundowns will need all the help they can get to win the Champions League.

Enter Loftman. The Englishman will help the Brazilians in ensuring they will be able to make use of their set-piece opportunities, as they will struggle to find their usual breakthroughs in Africa.

But he won’t be limited to that, with his role including “working on the pitch and compiling analytic data to provide information to improve an important part of the game”.

Many pundits have also regarded Loftman as Mngqithi’s replacement, as rumours are rife that the demoted coach will leave the club when this contract expires in June.

Nonetheless, Sundowns’ progress and adaptation to the modern game will help to evolve SA football as the country strives to be one of the best not only on the continent but in the world.

IOL Sport

* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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