Football not as easy as business for Motsepe

2008-03-08 00:00

Patrice Motsepe may be on the cover of Forbes magazine, but South Africa’s first black dollar billionaire has learnt the hard way that running a football club is not always as easy as making money.

After their Premier Soccer League (PSL) title victory last season, Mamelodi Sundowns, who play Bloemfontein Celtic at Loftus in Pretoria this afternoon, have had a far tougher campaign in 2007/08.

Despite Motsepe’s attempts to set new standards for professionalism at Downs, the club has had its share of off-the-field problems, including losing the case against Jose Torrealba that the Venezuelan striker’s signature was forged on a renewal of his contract.

Two weeks ago, coach Gordon Igesund and the club agreed to part ways, with speculation that in the end, Igesund had lost the backing of his players.

Now 13th-placed Sundowns are embarking on a campaign of damage limitation until the end of the season.

After Downs’ 2-1 victory over Lamontville Golden Arrows in Umlazi in midweek, caretaker-coach Trott Moloto said the brief he has been given by his employer until the end of the season is: "The president does not expect anything other than finishing in a respectable league position. Also, we hope to do well in the Nedbank Cup."

Both Sundowns and Celtic are under new management in the coaching department.

Following Igesund’s dismissal, last week the PSL went into coach-axing silly season, with last-placed Black Leopards’ Beobie Solomons suspended and Celtic’s Khabo Zondo also given the boot.

The latter decision was the strangest, with Celtic having played some good football this season under Zondo.

Explaining the coach’s dismissal, Celtic communications manager Petros Augousti said on the club’s website: "After a string of poor results and with Celtic slipping to 10th place, the senior management decided that the team needed a change.

"There is a lot of pressure to perform, but we think that a club of our stature should be among the top three or four."

Zondo’s former assistants, Benjamin Reed and David Modise, will take over the team in a caretaker capacity.

Celtic’s influential fans have met with team management to demand Zondo’s return and Golden Arrows coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who used to be Zondo’s assistant at the Durban club, also criticised the call.

"I think it was a premature decision. With time almost all clubs go through a bad run of form. Clubs need to support the players and coaches during these times," Mngqithi said.

For Sundowns, striker Lerato Chabangu was in sprightly form against Arrows.

Uruguayan international striker Bryan Aldave has had a cracking start with the Pretoria glamour team, banging in two goals in three games.

Another coach still under pressure is Kaizer Chiefs’ Muhsin Ertugral, whose 12th-placed team take on third-placed Free State Stars at Charles Mopeli Stadium in QwaQwa tomorrow.

AmaZulu, who have moved clear of the relegation zone with successive victories, can help struggling third-last fellow KZN outfit Thanda Royal Zulu by beating Jomo Cosmos in Umlazi tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, Thanda play Moroka Swallows in Potchefstroom, while today sixth-placed Arrows are in Cape Town against eight-placed Santos.

Today: Mamelodi Sundowns v Bloemfontein Celtic (Loftus, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Orlando Pirates v Black Leopards (Johannesburg Stadium, 8 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Santos v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Athlone Stadium, 8 pm – live on SABC1)

Tomorrow: AmaZulu v Jomo Cosmos (King Zwelithini, 3.30 pm), Free State Stars v Kaizer Chiefs (Charles Mopeli, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), Moroka Swallows v Thanda Royal Zulu (Olen Park, 3.30 pm), Platinum Stars v Supersport United (Olympia Park, 5 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

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