Nkareng Matshe

For a man who recently was in the news over his supposed ill-treatment at Mamelodi Sundowns, Harold Legodi yesterday did his utmost to defend the club’s much-criticised transfer-policy, insisting they had never spent millions on a single player.

Legodi, who only got a written contract to continue as assistant to head coach Johan Neeskens after a media storm, stated that the Brazilians were not a rich club, as widely believed.

“Sundowns don’t even have a sponsor,” said Legodi, speaking at a press conference yesterday ahead of his club’s MTN8 quarter-final clash against Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday (Loftus Versfeld, 3pm).

“The Sundowns owner (Patrice Motsepe) is a billionaire, but Sundowns are not a rich team. We are not even like other teams. Chiefs are very wealthy. (Orlando) Pirates and SuperSport (United) are wealthy as well.”

Sundowns reportedly spent millions in recruiting Eleazar Rodgers, Edward Manqele, Wayne Arendse and Thamsanqa Sangweni – to mention but four – this pre-season. Former Santos players, Rodgers and Arendse, in particular, were said to have jointly cost the club R15-million, while Manqele was reported to have been signed for a transfer fee of no less than R5-million.

Legodi said he was puzzled, however, to read about these huge amounts in the media.

“There’s not a single player in this country who’s worth R7-million. How can we pay that much for players who are not even regulars in the national team? Where do you get these prices from? They can’t be correct. People are making up stories when it comes to Sundowns. For instance, they said Elias Pelembe was earning around R500000 per month, but that’s absolutely not true.”

He insisted the Brazilians spend no more than other Premiership teams. “Look at Chiefs … they signed Siboniso Gaxa, Erick Mathoho and Morgan Gould. Those players did not come cheap. But if they had been bought by Sundowns, prices would have been inflated.”

Another allegation that has been directed at Sundowns this pre-season is that they have nine strikers on their books. “Where do you get that from? We have only four strikers. Killer (Mphela), Rogers, Nyasha Mushekwi and Manqele. (Richard) Henyekane is a winger, just like Lebohang Mokoena and Pelembe. The other strikers we had have either had their contracts not renewed or have been loaned out. Last season we had to play with Mphela while he was injured because we didn’t have options. We have learnt from that, hence we beefed up.”

Mphela is now sidelined for some time due to an operation, but Legodi expressed hope in Manqele and Rogers that they could help Mushekwi to bring success in Sunday’s much-anticipated quarter-final against Chiefs.

“We are a big club that used to win trophies. Unfortunately, we haven’t won anything for the last four, five years. We need to make sure that we win something this season because if we don’t we would have failed dismally.”

Chiefs, meanwhile, are sweating over the fitness of Siphiwe Tshabalala, although assistant coach Doctor Khumalo expressed hope that the Bafana midfielder would take the field on Sunday. “He’s got a 70 percent chance of playing. We just have to see if he pulls through,” Khumalo said.

Amakhosi, however, are certain to be without the injured George Lebese, while Jimmy Jambo will be put through a late fitness test.