What is An­thony Md­luli try­ing to prove?

• new Sih­langu coach could be pleas­ing his masters at the ex­pense of the na­tion with his du­bi­ous selec­tion

Swazi Observer - - COLUMN -

AN­THONY Md­luli, the new Sih­langu coach is ea­ger to at­tract at­ten­tion to him­self and sadly for all the wrong rea­sons.

He has just an­nounced his Sih­langu squad that is set to com­pete in the an­nual COSAFA Cas­tle Cup. He has a made mock­ery of the selec­tion process of the best play­ers in the land. I have no idea who he wants to prove wrong. I do not want to be­lieve Md­luli could be so ig­no­rant of the lo­cal game that he would leave out of his squad the best mid­fielder the coun­try has at the mo­ment in Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze.

I mean se­ri­ously; would a coach worth the name ig­nore the tal­ents and silky skills of the Mba­bane Swal­lows mae­stro? Or does Md­luli have his own hid­den agenda? I say hid­den agenda be­cause it is now an open se­cret that a num­ber of clubs, es­pe­cially South African teams, are ea­ger to have the gifted play­maker in their books fol­low­ing Sikhondze’s splen­did show­ing for his team, es­pe­cially in the Cham­pi­ons League where Swal­lows are cur­rently rid­ing the crest of the wave. Now why deny Sikhondze the chance to shine on an­other plat­form? Md­luli is just an ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen with his du­bi­ous selec­tion of play­ers.

It is not only Sikhondze, who has been left out but his Swal­lows team­mates in goal­keeper Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza and ag­gres­sive marks­man Sandile Hlatshwako, Sandile Gamedze (Young Buf­faloes) and Mthunzi ‘Xavi’ Mkhontfo.

These play­ers all form the core of their re­spec­tive teams. The Swal­lows play­ers have amassed in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence, gained in their con­ti­nen­tal cam­paigns as they have cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the whole con­ti­nent and got rave re­views across the re­gion but they are strangely still not good enough for Md­luli’s team. Md­luli should not let us ques­tion his cre­den­tials. He should not make us start dig­ging on whether he has coached any suc­cess­ful team be­fore. In fact, has he ever won any­thing as a coach? Has Md­luli ever lifted a tro­phy? Does he have what it takes to coach at the high­est level? Judg­ing from his squad selec­tion, the man clearly has no idea. And many will be for­given for as­sum­ing that this man has a per­sonal prob­lem with these play­ers. Oth­er­wise, how does one jus­tify the omis­sion? Or is Md­luli try­ing to please his masters? We know per­sonal prob­lems with cer­tain play­ers have in the past robbed the squad of qual­ity. Swal­lows have won the MTN league un­beaten for two sea­sons in a row now and these three play­ers, need­less to say, have been in­flu­en­tial in this great feat. What does Md­luli do? He drops them for no ap­par­ent rea­son. By drop­ping them from his ‘joke’ squad, he has only man­aged to weaken his team fur­ther. If he is able to call up the likes of vet­eran play­ers in Won­der ‘Samba Jive’ Nh­leko and Tony ‘TT’ Ts­abedze, the ques­tion that begs the an­swer is; why then ig­nore young and shin­ing tal­ent? Nh­leko and Ts­abedze, for in­stance, would have done with the rest. And more­over, Md­luli can­not claim to have the fu­ture of the squad in mind be­cause play­ers like Nh­leko and Ts­abedze should in ac­tual fact not be con­sid­ered for the COSAFA Cup.

Coun­tries with a well-crafted plan do not send their best play­ers to the CASAFA Cup but rather give a chance to the less ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers to leave a mark. Md­luli does not seem to know what he is do­ing hon­estly.

‘Nkomishi’s case is even more puz­zling. He is ob­vi­ously the best goal­keeper in the coun­try at the mo­ment. Per­haps Md­luli has not watched Swal­lows games of late, es­pe­cially the en­ergy-sap­ping Cham­pi­ons League en­coun­ters. The Sih­langu coach was ob­vi­ously not at Mavuso Sports Cen­tre when Ginindza lit­er­ally stood be­tween his team and de­feat when the An­golans came call­ing.

What is also strange about his selec­tion is the fact that he has picked de­fend­ers for the mid­field roles. A case in point is that of the Swal­lows strong tack­ler Mandla Palma, who has been called up as a mid­fielder. Gosh! Re­ally! Nat­u­ral born mid­field­ers like Nh­leko and Felix Baden­horst have been called up as strik­ers. As a re­sult, the squad is now full of de­fend­ers. What ex­actly is Md­luli try­ing to do here?

As I see it, the man should just swal­low his pride; re­call, ‘Pupu’, ‘Nkomishi’ and Sandile Hlatshwako. He should also in­clude Sandile Gamedze and ‘Xavi’. They are the most ex­pe­ri­enced we have. He needs to call them up be­fore it is too late and be­fore he makes a mock­ery of Sih­langu in the tour­na­ment.

Har­ries ‘Madze’ Bu­lunga did and with ‘Nkomishi’ be­tween the posts, Sih­langu claimed their high­est fin­ish in the re­gional tour­na­ment and claimed a bronze medal.

An­thony is clearly set­ting him­self up for fail­ure.

An­thony Md­luli.

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