After early exits from the MTN8, Caf Champions League and Telkom Knockout and with their struggles in front of goal set to be tested this weekend against Orlando Pirates, it is starting to become clear that Pitso Mosimane’s rebuild of Mamelodi Sundowns will take longer than he may have expected. DEAN WORKMAN explores.
Back in May, Mosimane was lifting his third Absa Premiership title with Sundowns alongside the likes of Khama Billiat and Percy Tau.
Fast forward a few months and Jingles has been dispossessed of his two best attacking talents.
Tau was the league’s top scorer last season with 11 goals, while he also added an impressive 15 assists. When you add Billiat’s contribution of eight goals and six assists, in what was an injury-hit season, Pitso has lost close to 40 goals from his side!
Mosimane was under no illusions that he would have to rebuild and spoke candidly with the media about it at the start of the season. The South African tactician made reference to the departures of Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly and Leonardo Castro and how they overcame those losses as reassurance that it would be done again.
Jingles brought in youngsters Phakamani Mahlambi and Lebohang Maboe, as well as former Liverpool youth forward Toni Silva to replace his departed star duo. The Downs coach would also have been hoping that Jeremy Brockie and Gaston Sirino would have settled after arriving in January 2018.
Things, however, have not gone according to plan for the former Bafana Bafana coach as his team, specifically his attacking players, have failed to hit the high notes which have become expected of them in recent times.
The Brazilians have suffered early exits from the Caf Champions League, where Pitso’s men failed to get out of the group stages in the competition that has become their primary focus, as well as the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.
12 – Mamelodi Sundowns have scored more than one goal in a game just once in their last twelve competitive matches & only thrice since the start of the 2017/18 @OfficialPSL season. Misfiring. #TKO2018
— OptaJabu (@OptaJabu) November 3, 2018
They have also started the league slowly, drawing five and only winning three of their opening eight fixtures, amassing 14 points and currently sitting six points off the top although they do have two games in hand on league-leaders Bidvest Wits.
All of Masandawana’s woes can be put down to their problems in front of goal. The Brazilians have only scored nine times in the league, with three of those goals coming in a 3-3 draw with AmaZulu.
Mosimane lamented his side’s goal-scoring form after being forced to hold on for a 1-0 win against Chippa United after squandering a number of chances in their fixture at the end of October.
‘There’s no X factor. You can build it and show dominance, but as long as it does not have the X factor, then it does not mean anything,’ said Mosimane after the game.
Mosimane’s signings, bar Sirino, have failed to have the immediate desired impact.
Brockie is yet to score his first competitive goal for the Chloorkop-based club, while Mahlambi and Maboe have shown glimpses of their ability but remain raw and inconsistent.
Jeremy Brockie’s last competitive goal was on 28 October 2017 for Supersport United against Bloemfontein Celtic. Today is 29 October 2018. A year from hell for the R10m Sundowns striker.
— Grant James (@grantdesmidt) October 29, 2018
Silva, on the other hand, has also failed to have the anticipated impact for a player who came through Liverpool’s development system alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling.
When you add the fact that Sibusiso Vilakazi suffered an Achilles injury while on duty with Bafana Bafana, which looks set to rule him out for the remainder of the season, Mosimane faces a challenge in getting his side back to playing the attacking football they have become known for.
These goal-scoring woes will come to the fore when Jingles and his team face their fellow title chasers Orlando Pirates in what promises to be a real acid test of their ambitions this season.
Sundowns fans would undoubtedly have been hoping that their team would have been able to continue their recent dominance despite the loss of Billiat and Tau, but it is becoming clear that they will have to be patient as Mosimane looks to rebuild his side yet again.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix