Not many coaches can be patient with a player in the same manner Pitso Mosimane has been with Rivaldo Coetzee at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Two years ago, Coetzee arrived at the league champions injured, and Mosimane only got to utilise the young defender after more than a year of rehabilitation on a foot injury believed to have cost “a few million rand” in medical bills.
Just when the utility player from Kakamas in the Northern Cape was establishing himself in central midfield, he gave his coach a scare again, although Mosimane said it was a minor knock, after a stamping incident in Sundowns’ 2-0 Absa Premiership win over Tshwane rivals SuperSport United last weekend. And the last thing Mosimane wants is for his charge to aggravate the injury.
As a precaution, Coetzee will not feature in Sundowns’ CAF Champions League clash against AS Otôho in Congo-Brazzaville today.
“It’s not a big knock. [SuperSport United striker Bradley] Grobler stepped on him and he stepped on the same area where Rivaldo had the problem,” explained Mosimane.
“The pitches are not good there and the worst thing is to worsen the injury. We need him [for future matches].
“I must manage him because he is fragile. We have invested a lot in him. He didn’t come cheap from Ajax and we took a risk. And it could have backfired on me; to say why did you advise the club to buy a player who failed a medical test? That’s why I’m making sure that this thing has to go right,” said Mosimane in reference to Coetzee’s transfer from Ajax Cape Town two seasons ago after a move to Celtic in Scotland fell through after a failed medical.
He couldn’t divulge Coetzee’s price tag, but City Press understands it was in “double figures of millions of rand”.
The player has made just 19 appearances in all competitions since he joined Sundowns.
“I wrap him in cotton wool because he is a special player. He is an investment because the boy is 22. When Percy [Tau] and Keagan [Dolly] went overseas, they were 23,” he said.
Mosimane maintains that Coetzee has the potential to emulate the two.
“For me, it is just a question of one scout from Europe checking Rivaldo out. The boy can play in the UK, France and Italy – easy. He is quality. He’s a European number six – he’s a Sergio Busquets [Barcelona and Spain holding midfielder]. Rivaldo doesn’t make many mistakes.
“But it’s a competition you want when you have Tiyani Mabunda, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Sammy Seabi [the new signing from Polokwane City].”
Heading into their fixture in Brazzaville, Mosimane maintains he has enough depth to replace Coetzee.
“We can’t complain about personnel, we have enough. We have Andile to come in; it’s his chance and he has trained well. Mabunda hasn’t played as yet. Ace [Manyisa] is also there in the midfield [and] we still have Hlompho [Kekana] who can play [number] six even though we played him at [number] eight this time. Even Motjeka Madisha plays six.”
Meanwhile, analysing his latest Champions League opponents, Mosimane singled out Otôho’s “aggressive strikers” as the main threat. He likened the Congolese champions to previous opponents such as AS Togo-Port of Togo, Lobi Stars of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s AC Léopards de Dolisie, who all ran the South Africa powerhouse close in the previous campaigns.
“It’s not going to be a pretty game,” he said.