In what were clear barbs directed at the likes of George Lebese and Toni Silva, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said he couldn’t afford to leave out the stars that are regular performers.
Lebese and Silva have spoken in recent weeks about how they felt sidelined by Mosimane, and that they weren’t given a fair opportunity to prove themselves.
Silva labelled Mosimane arrogant, adding that “you are the weakest coach I have ever had in my life” after he signed for Al-Ittihad in Egypt recently.
Lebese, who has gone to SuperSport United on loan, told local media that he has been “depressed” at Masandawana.
But following Sundowns’ 3-0 win over Black Leopards on Wednesday night, Mosimane hit back.
Without naming Lebese or Silva, the former Bafana mentor told SuperSport: “At Sundowns if you’re not living the right life, you can’t stay with us for long, because we play every three days. It’s tough.
“We’ve got Emiliano Tade, what a good football player, but he has to wait for his chance. It’s frustrating for the players, I understand.
“But the level is a bit different because do you take Themba Zwane or (Gaston) Sirino out? Sirino gives 70 to 80 percent of our goals every time. Those people are important for us.
“That’s why some other guys get frustrated and don’t get a chance to play, say things in newspapers, but it’s part of my life. You have to break in the team and when you’re there, you must stay in there. But you must score also,” he explained.
“It’s handbags, it’s part of the game. Everybody says ‘Ah, you’re frustrating players at Sundowns’ – who must I take out? Sirino, Themba Zwane? No!
“(Hlompho) Kekana, (Tiyani) Mabunda… it’s tough. Look at the bench – so you are going to put yourself in the team, and when you are there, stay in there.
“It’s easy to go to the newspapers, ‘I was not playing. They didn’t give me a chance.’ Who must we take out?”
Mosimane praised captain Hlompho Kekana for his remarkable piece of play to set up the opening goal by Lebohang Maboe, in which he won the ball back in his own half and delivered a long-ball into the path of Gaston Sirino.
The Uruguayan showed off a piece of individual brilliance himself by curving the ball with the outside of his foot in a perfect cross for Maboe to finish at the near post.
“First, to congratulate Kekana, hey! I mean, he’s 33, he’s still going strong. It’s unbelievable. It reminds me (the long pass) of what Wayne Rooney did in the US, where he made a tackle and played a long ball,” the coach said.
“What a goal, because we told Gaston to cheat a little bit – because we had to play eight against eight, and we told Gaston to stay wide. That’s why Kekana came to celebrate with the bench like that, because that was the plan.”
Sundowns are again in action next week Tuesday, when they take on ASEC Mimosas in the Caf Champions League in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.