Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is unsure what to make of the Brazilians’ season after missing out on a quadruple despite being on course to win a domestic treble.
Sundowns’ three wisemen, Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela, started life at the helm on a high note last season, winning the championship, which was the club’s fourth in a row — and 11th in total.
This season, the club’s management led by chairman Tlhopie Motsepe — the son of el supremo Patrice Motsepe — Sundowns, as per norm, broke the bank and bolstered their squad with local and international stalwarts, such as Teboho Mokwena.
With the arrival of the new blood, Sundowns were expected to return to the pinnacle of African football — once again — as they were all but deemed as no match for their local counterparts after their dominance in recent years.
However, things didn’t go according to the script, with the Brazilians crashing out of the CAF Champions League quarter-final for a second year running under the trio.
To their consolation, though, Sundowns are on course to win a domestic treble after winning the MTN8 earlier in the season before recently being crowned league champions, while they’ll face Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday.
But in the midst of all their shortcomings and winnings this season, Mngqithi has failed to put his head on the block and determine whether their season was a failure or not.
“This will look like a very successful season to everyone else but to us as coaches and the players, we know we could have had the quadruple,” said Mngqithi.
“But unfortunately, we bombed out of the Champions League. However, to a certain extent, we are still proud of what we have achieved this season. We have done much better than last season.”
The appointment of the coaching trio was deemed as a ticking bomb by some of the pundits, given that Mngqithi, Mokwena and Komphela hail from different coaching schools.
Mngqithi, who’s also a teacher by profession, is accustomed to the traditional ways of coaching, Mokwena is new school and all about technology and analysis of data, while Komphela is an astute player’s coach who values human qualities.
Granted there’ve been cracks in the union like any other, but the trio have since put their differences aside to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in local football but continentally as well.
“As a person, I’m very positive. I always give room for people to be pessimistic because it is in our nature,” Mngqithi said.
“So, I’m just saying that it’s very important in life to stay on the positive side and that is what has carried me throughout my life. I always try to see the silver lining in everything, I never really focus on the dark cloud because it will bring rain.”
The Brazilians will cross paths with Dan “Dance” Malesela’s Gallants, who are the defending champions of the Nedbank Cup, at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday night.
Sundowns who won the competition three seasons ago under steward Pitso Mosimane are clear favourites heading into the clash, but Mngqithi is wary of the ‘David v Goliath’ mantra in the competition.
“These are some of the matches that I don’t like. Matches where you are expected to win, and everybody looks at you as the favourites to win the match, are very difficult,” Mngqithi added.