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Sundowns coaches emerge from baptism of fire and embrace titles as ‘Shadrach‚ Meshach and Abednego’

06 November 2020 - 12:58 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Mamelodi Sundowns coaches Steve Komphela, Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi during their MTN8 quarterfinal against Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria on October 18 2020.
Mamelodi Sundowns coaches Steve Komphela, Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi during their MTN8 quarterfinal against Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria on October 18 2020.
Image: Samuel Shivambu / Backpagepix / Gallo Images

It appears that the Mamelodi Sundowns coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela have embraced their collective nickname of “Shadrach‚ Meshach and Abednego”, which was mischievously given to them by the fans. 

Fans trolled Mngqithi‚ Mokwena and Komphela on social media after they lost their first match in charge to Bloemfontein Celtic in the quarterfinal stage of MTN8 by likening them to the Biblical figures from the book of Daniel.

The story of the three figures – thrown into a furnace by King of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar II‚ but emerging unscathed – might have some resonance for Sundowns’ co-coaches too.

They have been thrown into Downs’ hot seat as a trio to take the club forward from the eight-year tenure by Pitso Mosimane – who has left to join Egyptian giants Al Ahly – that was the most successful in the Premier Soccer League era‚ with five league titles‚ a Caf Champions League‚ and 11 trophies in all.

And so far the trio are surviving their baptism of fire with some promise‚ too.

The Brazilians have recovered form that setback to Celtic and are sitting top of the DStv Premiership standings on goal difference after two wins and a draw – and Mngqithi credits their good start to the league to the teamwork with his coaching colleagues.

“One is encouraged with the progress the team is making and I am also encouraged with the work coming out from the coaches who I am working with – Abednego and Shadrach – in terms of making sure that we always get something on set pieces‚” said Mngqithi after the 2-0 win over Cape Town City.

“I think today we scored one of those well-taken free-kicks and credit should go to the coaches that I work with because they really put up a lot of good work.

The coaches are new‚ the players are still finding their feet and we are hoping that everything will come right.
Manqoba Mngqithi

“Our high press‚ we know what we are capable of and what it can give us. It is just unfortunate that we are not benefiting much in terms of goals from the high press, but are hopeful that in the near future something will come out.

“We are trying our level best to improve our game intelligence‚ ball possession and we are still struggling with a lot of balls being lost‚ especially in transitions. Sometimes on transition we think an opportunity will come out but it becomes an opportunity for the opponent to come at us‚ and we are forced to deal with their counter and press‚ which make the game scrappy.”

Mngqithi is happy that Sundowns have not conceded after their opening three league matches and they have scored five goals, against Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City‚ while they did not concede against Tshakhuna Tsha Madzhivhandila (TTM).

“We are improving and the good thing is that we have kept three clean sheets now and we created a lot of chances in all of these games. We were unfortunate against TTM not to get maximum points but its work in progress and the team is coming together. The coaches are new‚ the players are still finding their feet and we are hoping that everything will come right.

“That we have not conceded is positive for our defence. I think our counter-pressing is also helping us‚ we are not that much exposed on counter attacks. We are working as a unit in that aspect, not to give opponents opportunities to have a free run against us.”


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