JOHANNESBURG - Jeremy Brockie is a square peg in a round hole at Mamelodi Sundowns, he doesn’t fit. But the technical team has told him not to change as that will benefit the club in the long run.
The New Zealand forward has endured a frustrating start to his career at Sundowns since his switch from SuperSport United in January. Brockie is yet to find the back of the net for the Brazilians despite making 13 appearances in all competitions. The problem is that Sundowns’ game model doesn’t suit Brockie who is a poacher and a deadly finisher. He needs to be in the box to be effective. He needs crosses from the flanks, something Sundowns don't do as their game plan revolves around short passes and fast movements.
“There are two sides to getting to know each other. It’s me getting to understand the way Sundowns play and how they attack. There’s also the players understanding how I play,” Brockie said. “The coaching staff have tried to introduce how I play to the players as well but still keep Sundowns’ style of play. The coaching staff have said to me a few times during training games and training sessions, ‘don’t try and be like a Sundowns’ player, we brought you here because of what you bring to the team’. What’s been tricky is finding the balance between playing my own game and mixing that a little bit with how Sundowns play.”
Brockie hasn’t been successful in finding that balance which has seen him try to be a player he isn’t, just to fit in. “When you arrive at a new club you’re so eager to impress,” Brockie said. “You look at the players around you and you want to be like a Mshishi (Themba Zwane) or Vila (Sibusiso Vilakazi), come short and get the ball. My strength is being in the box and getting onto the end of things. When I come short and get involved in those sort of things, that takes away my strength. You’ll see me more around the box this season and maybe not so much involved in the build-up play but getting on the end of things and hopefully scoring goals.”
Brockie could start doing that in Lome today at 3pm (South African time) in the Brazilians’ Caf Champions League clash with AS Togo-Port. Sundowns have to make up ground after only collecting two points in their first two matches in their worst start in the group stage of the continent’s premier knockout competition.
The Champions League could help Brockie find himself as some of the pitches that Sundowns will play on don’t allow their passing game and some of the opponents go toe-to-toe with the Brazilians, which could force them to resort to route one football as an alternative to counter that.
“You have to adapt when you play in Africa,” Brockie said. “The game against Horoya showed that. The conditions, the pitch and the crowd were all against us. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do to get the result. It’ll be the same thing in Togo. The pitch is artificial which brings its own challenges. At times you might have to adapt your style of play a little bit. Hopefully I can get into the starting XI and make an impact in the club this season.”