Daily Dispatch

Downs coach blames team

- By MARK GLEESON

MAMELODI Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens has defended his decision to leave out star winger Elias Pelembe for their last two league matches and insisted there are no potential match-winners in his expansive squad.

The former Dutch World Cup star, hired to deliver on owner Patrice Motsepe’s dreams of taking a title after a fiveyear hiatus, has blamed his team’s inability to score at vital junctures for their flop in the league this season.

Motsepe had brought Neeskens to deliver Sundowns the championsh­ip plus have the team play in a Barcelona style but the Tshwane-based side have convinced few of their ability to struggle through adversity.

This past weekend’s defeat in the derby against Supersport United was their fourth defeat in their last five league games and if they are beaten by Free State Stars in Atteridgev­ille this Saturday, they could finish the season as low as sixth.

“You have to accept that we lost this title because we had too many draws and lost too many unnecessar­y games this season,” said Neeskens as he tried to explain away the poor results.

Pelembe, who Sundowns gave a new and reportedly lucrative contact in January, was left out of the key game against Kaizer Chiefs and not even on the bench against SuperSport last Saturday.

Asked why, Neeskens said: “Because I have a big squad as everyone says and Pelembe was suspended against Free State Stars (in the Nedbank Cup semifinal), the team did very well, so why should I change the startling line-up? I think I had to give confidence to the players who played in that game. As a coach I have to take decision about which players I put on the bench and I had a lot of choices. I put Killer Mphela and Lebogang (Mokoena) on the bench for the game. That’s the reason he (Pelembe) was not there, there was no other reason.”

Pressed then whether Neeskens did not believe the highly-rated Mozambican was not a player with special ability to change the outcome of games, he replied:

“I have a lot of players with special abilities and sometimes a coach has to make a decision. It is not clear to me that when Pelembe is playing he can change the whole game.

“No one player in this team has that. If I had that sort of player, he would play all the time.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa