Congratulations to Manqoba Mngqithi I suppose are in order. The time has truly come for the gentleman of the game to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight of South African football and show the world his potential as one of the most knowledgeable mentors around.
He has been appointed as co-coach with Rulani Mokwena to take charge of Mamelodi Sundowns following the resignation of Pitso Mosimane who has since joined Al Ahly. But, according to the Sundowns management, in case of a stalemate in terms of differing opinions, Mngqithi will have the final say.
I consider Mngqithi the last of the gentlemen of the game. Soft spoken and unassuming, yet one of the most knowledgeable fellows and a true student of the game. Above all, he loves to play a structured game by keeping it on the ground akin to the tiki-taka brand that is brewed in the sprawling streets of South African townships.
Ask Bra Stan Tshabalala and he will tell you that in Italy they call it “Piano!” It means take it easy, don’t rush, don’t panic…but piano!
Mngqithi likes to imprint his own signature in the teams that he coaches. There was a time when playing against Lamontville Golden Arrows when he was in charge, was considered a nightmare. They played a dazzling kind of possession football that could make even Barcelona stop and stare!
Who could ever forget the 6-0 pasting they handed Ajax Cape Town in the final of the MTN 8 at Orlando Stadium during 2009? It was the massacre of the innocent as Arrows proved without any reasonable doubt that they were the masters of the shoe-shuffle.
They were not called “Abafana be ’sthende” for nothing. Their ability to engage in flicks and back-heels was legendary and very pleasing to the eye, it entertainment par excellence. They played without fear and would engage in their bewildering passing game from the back and carry the ball right up to the final third in some intricate passing game that had Mngqithi’s signature all over.
They were considered braggarts, but played with a confidential swagger that completely swept Ajax off the Orlando Stadium pitch. It was not just Arrows at their best, but displayed a true signature tune of Mngqithi and the way he wants football to be played.
Highly articulate, intelligent and a true student of the game is Mngqithi. Although an unassuming fellow and very soft spoken, Mngqithi broods no nonsense and once the players accepts that he is now the new sherif, sparks will fly out of Chloorkop.
Sadly his abilities were not really fully appreciated at both AmaZulu and Chippa United and or was not given enough time to implement his vaunted style. That is why Dr Patrice Motsepe and Sundowns management needs to be commended for putting their faith in the man.
He has been a loyal servant of the game and of the team. I hope and pray that the Sundowns management, the board and supporters will be patient with him and allow him to implement his ideas. But above all, offer him all the necessary support he needs and I’m sure they will not regret the massive decision they have taken to entrust him with the responsibility of leading the Yellow Nation.