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
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.