MAMELODI Sundowns captain Teko Modise on Monday told the club’s notoriously volatile supporters to keep their hands off beleaguered coach Johan Neeskens and rather blame the players if they were looking for a scapegoat for the side’s run of poor results.
A resolute Modise said the players were willing to accept full responsibility for the club’s failure to win a game in the past eight matches. The midfielder said it was not fair for Neeskens to be victimised by a violent section of the club’s supporters who have singled out the Dutchman as the sole reason for the star-studded club’s uncharacteristic winless streak.
"The coach can only do so much and it is up to us as players to win matches," Modise said on Monday.
"We have to take the blame and we as players have to man up. We have to be responsible because we are employed to ensure that this team win matches."
The Premier Soccer League laid criminal charges against some Sundowns supporters earlier this month. The charges include throwing dangerous objects, malicious damage to property, and entering a designated area illegally.
Modise said he was pleased that club president Patrice Motsepe had stood by Neeskens despite the furious calls to fire him.
"I am not surprised that management have not fired the coach because they believe in him just as we as players do. The fact is he is a good coach and it us who are making all these mistakes on the pitch," Modise said.
"We give the coach our full backing and he has done well for us. We do not want to start afresh (with a new coach) and we will try to win games," he said.
Matters came to a head earlier this month after Sundowns supporters clashed with security personnel and vandalised Dobsonville Stadium following a 2-0 defeat to Moroka Swallows. Neeskens was struck on the head with an object and had to be rescued by police from the mob.
Sundowns spokesman Kabelo Mosito said on Monday that the Pretoria club had held a meeting with supporters a few days ago to defuse the tension.
"We had a meeting with the supporters last week and we tried to iron out all the pressing issues," he said.
"I doubt if the scenes of violence that we saw in the past will happen again because the supporters now understand that there are repercussions to their actions. We hope the arrests of those supporters for what happened at Dobsonville Stadium will act as a deterrent."
Modise said they were desperate to start winning matches again and the Telkom Knockout Last 16 tie against newcomers AmaTuks would be a great way to start when the two sides meet at Loftus on Tuesday night.
"We have to start winning games so that supporters realise that Neeskens is a very good coach. We have to change this, otherwise we will continue to have a problem on our hands (from supporters)."
AmaTuks player Tebogo Monyai said they hoped Sundowns’ problems continued they were still distracted by internal strife for Tuesday’s game.
Monyai said they wanted to add fuel to the fire and make things more difficult for their more illustrious Pretoria neighbours.
"We are new to the premiership and this is an opportunity to market our brand," he said.
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