Pitso Mosimane’s self-inflicted midfield headache

Head coach Pitso Mosimane and Mamelodi Sundowns  assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and AS Otoho d'Oyo at Lucas Moripe Stadium. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Head coach Pitso Mosimane and Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and AS Otoho d'Oyo at Lucas Moripe Stadium. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

The arrival of Sammy Seabi at Mamelodi Sundowns has increased the number of central midfielders to seven for Pitso Mosimane to choose from.

It is all great to have plenty of options as a coach, but that comes at the cost of some of the players, who are often overlooked, sulking on the stands or on the bench – if they are lucky to make the match-day squad.

The thing with Mosimane, you see, is that you cannot doubt that the man is pro-football. You will hardly hear him talking about deploying defensive tactics before a game, regardless of whatever situation; the motto is always to play attractive football and attack, attack, and attack. He embraces all the aspects of total football.

“Jingles” plays with a traditional number six, or a defensive midfielder in modern terms. The master tactician lines up the heartbeat of his midfield much like Marcello Lippi did when he won the 2006 Fifa World Cup with Italy. Mosimane’s Gennaro Gattuso is either Rivaldo Coetzee, Sammy Seabi or Tiyani Mabunda. One of them has to play besides a midfielder who can defend and attack – a typical box-to-box player, which is often club captain Hlompho Kekana, and that was Lippi’s version of Andrea Pirlo.

With Kekana a 90% guarantee starter, this leaves Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Lucky Mohomi left out in the cold. Although the Masandawana coach tried out the combination of Jali and Kekana, who are both box-to-box anchors.

But one thing that Mosimane refused to be drawn into was the reunion of Jali and Manyisa, who starred side-by-side at Orlando Pirates.

The duo has never been on the field at the same time since joining Sundowns, and perhaps “Jingles” avoided playing them together as their tried and tested partnership would make a strong bid for a regular starting berth and possibly see Kekana and the rest of the midfielders being starved of game time.

As it stands, Mabunda seems to be the one who has been sacrificed this season as Coetzee and Seabi have been trusted with the defensive midfield role alongside the veteran that is Kekana. The 31-year-old Mabunda has played 25 minutes in all competition front so far in contrast to 33 games last season.

Whichever way Mosimane will pair his middle of the park, the quality still remains the same and at the end of the day, it is much better to have a headache of selecting from the cream than to stress about the lack of personnel.

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