JOHANNESBURG – We sat in the boardroom of one of South Africa’s top law firms several years ago when Pitso Mosimane, fresh from winning his first PSL championship with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2014, said he would raid title rivals for their best players.
I remember the interview clearly. Mosimane was about two hours late, but because the season had just ended and this was the only opportunity to speak to the coach and get his thoughts on a remarkable championship-winning campaign, the only thing to do was to wait.
Mosimane’s excuse was that he had been delayed at an embassy trying to get a visa to go watch a player he’d been scouting.
But spending time stockpiling voyager miles by flying across continents wasn’t his big picture - crippling the opposition by luring their key men away was.
“Where do Bayern Munich go for good players to strengthen their squad? They go to Borussia Dortmund,” said Mosimane at the time. “We see a player we like from our rivals and we take.”
That has pretty much been Jingles' modus operandi, while still also trying to nurture Sundowns' own talent from the development ranks and looking elsewhere in Africa for quality.
Since that interview, Mosimane has kept to his word with at least 13 players that were central figures at their previous clubs. This week, the Sundowns coach added striker Jeremy Brockie to his collection after chasing him for nearly a year.
To jog your memory, here are a few players from that long list - and they have certainly made an impact in that yellow jersey.
Here is the thing about Mosimane, he doesn’t hide his desire to see a top player in the PSL move to Sundowns. Long before Billiat eventually joined from Ajax Cape Town, the coach made it known that the Zimbabwean attacker would help them win the championship, and that at Chloorkop he would become a complete player. The rest, as they say, is history.
Although clubs are mysterious with the figures, “Vila” moving to Sundowns is believed to be one of the highest transfers in SA to date. He was signed two years after being crowned Footballer of the Year and Wits were forced to sell to avoid a player with such a heavy price tag leaving for free. Mosimane doesn’t care about the price. He asks and owner Patrice Motsepe sanctions the transaction.
He arrived a week or so before Brockie landed from crosstown rivals SuperSport United. There was an initial uproar from Cape Town City chairman John Comitis about Sundowns courting Ngoma without their knowledge. But once a formal approach was made and the player himself had told Comitis he wants to leave, the deal was done.
Maritzburg United must have tried their best to hold on to a man they introduced to SA football, and one with a knack for scoring great goals. Mosimane liked. Mosimane bought.
He spent just one season in top-flight football with AmaTuks and quickly caught the eye of the national selectors. Sundowns were also waiting on the sidelines, and with some of their best midfielders ageing, young Zungu was the ideal replacement. Mosimane wasted no time getting the funds approved.
This list goes on and on - Keagan Dolly, Katlego Mashego, Thapelo Morena, George Lebese and Mogakolodi Ngele. No one else has managed to paralyse their rivals as well as Sundowns have. How can they not? They have Motsepe.