Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
4 minute read
15 Apr 2021
1:20 pm

Entlek, who calls the shots at Mamelodi Sundowns?

Ntokozo Gumede

Komphela is well-travelled, Mokwena had stints at Orlando Pirates and Chippa United, while Mngqithi is one of the few coaches to have coached in all levels of South African club football.

(L-R) Manqoba Mngqithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela lead the Mamelodi Sundowns technical team. (Pic: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix)

When Mamelodi Sundowns unveiled Steve Komphela as their newest member of the technical team at the back of Pitso Mosimane’s departure to Al-Ahly last year, a lot of eyebrows were raised in confusion, with some describing the combination of the trio, which includes co-head coach Rulani Mokwena, as ‘coaching fruit salad’ as Downs made an unprecedented move in appointing three coaches to serve under one umbrella.

When Mamelodi Sundowns unveiled Steve Komphela as their newest member of the technical team at the back of Pitso Mosimane’s departure to Al-Ahly last year, a lot of eyebrows were raised in confusion, with some describing the combination of the trio, which includes co-head coach Rulani Mokwena, as ‘coaching fruit salad’ as Downs made an unprecedented move in appointing three coaches to serve under one umbrella.

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It then begged the question: who exactly is calling the shots on the Sundowns bench that has three coaches who can hold their own?

Komphela is well-travelled, Mokwena had stints at Orlando Pirates and Chippa United, while Mngqithi is one of the few coaches to have coached in all levels of South African club football.

Former club president Patrice Motsepe, who now sits on the hottest administration seat in African football as the president of Caf, said Mngqithi’s opinion would be prevalent should there be no consensus between the three.

Well, it seems that Mngqithi took that and ran with it. Or, was he told behind closed doors that he is actually the head coach? In a ranging interview with journalists recently, Mngqithi said he is the one who asked Motsepe to bring Komphela on board, saying he needs to work with people who could add value to the team.

“Many people thought Steve was brought by the club to fight me and all that but I am the one who made the recommendation first to coach Rulani. People wondered why I brought Steve, questioning ‘are you not sure of your capabilities’. Sundowns are competing at the highest level and I needed to surround myself with the best,” said Mngqithi.

“It was my responsibility to make sure that I do not recruit somebody who is going to take selfies with the players and idolize them instead of helping them to become better, that’s why I brought Steve and given a chance, I can bring another two because I was fortunate in life to know very early that when you have a broader technical team, you maximize the chances of winning,” he added.

With that said, it is clear who calls the shot and even though he and Mokwena alternate the role of media engagement, the former Golden Arrows mentor is the outright leader of the technical team. He describes his leadership model as an inclusive one, which is why he usually shies away from blowing his own trumpet and does not take all the credit for Sundowns good run of form.

“You must work as a group and have different opinions, fight and discuss, go deeper and find detail in anything that you are doing. What’s the use of having a broad marketing department, a very broad office but the technical team and players are not there. At that time in Arrows when we won the MTN8 they only had sis’ Mato Madlala as the boss and in the office there were two people only because the core business of football is players and coaches.

“If I lead, Steve and Rulani are willing to listen to me and I am also willing to listen to them because they are not puppets. Mandla Ncikazi (Arrows coach) was not just an assistant to me, he was not running around picking up cones, he was a coach because I gave him an opportunity. The strength of the leader is in the people he surrounds himself with. If you surround yourself with weak people because you want to dominate them and be the boss,” he said.

Mngqithi details his long friendship with Komphela, revealing a vow between the two mentors made which has now come to fruition at Sundowns.

“Coach Komphela has been my friend from a long time ago. All the coaching courses that he has he did them with me. We had an understanding that when I get a big job, he will assist me and when he gets a big job, I will assist him but unfortunately when he got a big job I was already at Sundowns and it was difficult to leave and go support him at Chiefs.”