Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns chairman Tlhopie Motsepe says the club’s new Sporting Director Flemming Berg will ensure that there’s a seamless cohesion between the youth structures after joining the club following a successful stint with the Danish FU.
Berg joins Downs after being the head of youth development at the Danish FU for the last seven years, where he integrated players from the junior structures to the senior team as Denmark recently moved from 49th to ninth on the world rankings.
Berg also spent seven years as Chelsea’s chief international scout between 2005 and 2012.
At Downs, the 49-year-old replaces Jose Romano Alexanko who left the post barely three years into the job. Berg is set to work across all the structures, the academy, development, senior men’s team and Ladies’ team during his tenure.
“Today (on Monday) it is a great pleasure to announce a man whose task is to connect operations across the football club from the academy to the senior team,” Motsepe said during Berg's unveiling at the club’s base, Chloorkop, on Monday.
Berg will also “be responsible for scouting to football methodology”. But that won’t come easy as the Brazilians have also set the bar not only on the local front but on the continent as well as they were also crowned African Kings in 2016.
Currently, Sundowns are also on the cusp of winning a quadruple this season as they are also at the top of the league standings, Nedbank Cup quarter-finals and CAF Champions League quarter-finals. They have already won the MTN8.
With the Danish team having been impressive in the last couple of years after finishing in the round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup, while finishing in the semi-final of the European Championship last year, why did Berg leave his post for Downs?
“It’s a great to be here, first of all. This is a great continent and a remarkable country,” Berg said in his opening address. “I am very proud of having the opportunity to be part of this fantastic club and to take the position of Sporting Director.
“I have had a fantastic period with Denmark. I feel that I leave the Danish Federation on a good platform. The timing for me to leave was perfect. When I was contacted by Sundowns, I could see a chance to make a difference for the club.”
The thread of appointing sporting directors is gradually becoming a norm in South African football. Kaizer Chiefs appointed the club’s former striker and son of the head honcho Kaizer Motaung Junior, who has to work across the structures.
At Sundowns, Berg will work with all the coaches, including the three senior men’s coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela. Berg says he has been impressed a lot by the educational background of the coaches.
“I’ve watched most of the games and the interviews from the coaches. I look forward to talking about football, strategies and relationships. I’ve looked into their background and been impressed with their academic approach,” Berg said.
“I myself have a degree in sports science. I have interest in that part of the game as well. So I can’t wait to go into these discussions and talks with the coaches. I am sure it (the relationship) will be rewarding for all of us as the coaches.”