JOHAN Neskeens’s turbulent 18-month reign as Mamelodi Sundowns coach came to an abrupt end and the Dutchman was replaced by former Bafana Bafana mentor Pitso Mosimane in a dramatic day at the club’s Chloorkop headquarters on Sunday afternoon.
Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe did not waste time and as soon as Neeskens’s departure had been finalised, Mosimane was handed the coaching seat with immediate effect. Mosimane was introduced to the players on Sunday and will have his first training session on Monday.
Highly placed insiders told Business Day that Neeskens approached Motsepe after Sundowns were beaten 1-0 by Bloemfontein Celtic in the final of the Telkom Knockout in Durban at the weekend and asked to be released from his duties.
The Dutchman felt that the players were not responding to his coaching methods and he was failing to resuscitate the star-studded but ailing side’s fortunes.
An insider said Neeskens’s tirades at the media also did not help matters, and many senior officials within the club felt that he brought Sundowns into disrepute when he attacked journalists at Chloorkop on Wednesday.
The Dutchman had been needlessly picking fights with the media since the start of the season and matters came to a head last week when he said journalists had no business criticising his side as they had never played the sport or even knew how a ball bounced on the soccer pitch.
The club’s supporters had demanded his sacking for months but Motsepe resisted the urge to sack the coach, even though Sundowns have had their worst start to a premiership season and remain second from the bottom on the table.
The supporters went as far as chanting Mosimane’s name at Sundowns games and they will be happy that Motsepe finally obliged by appointing their preferred choice.
Motsepe said on Sunday Neeskens remained a good coach and he was grateful for the experience the Dutchman brought to Chloorkop.
"Johan Neeskens is a good coach whose experience and track record speaks for itself," Motsepe said. "He sacrificed and worked hard for the success of the club. Johan will always have a special place at Mamelodi Sundowns and I wish him the very best with his future and career."
The insider said the players were excited when they were told that Mosimane was taking over and many view his arrival as a turning point for the club. Mosimane — who returns to coaching after parting ways with Bafana in June — is familiar with the Sundowns set-up as he played for the Pretoria club in the 1980s.
Motsepe said Sundowns’ position on the premiership table "is extremely embarrassing" and he hoped that Mosimane would spark a revival. Motsepe said: "Pitso’s first major task is to ensure that we win games and finish in a respectable position in the Premier Soccer League, taking into account the very high standards we set for ourselves. Our current position on the log is extremely embarrassing and we have to restore the dignity and pride of Sundowns and our supporters."
Sundowns are left with four games before the Christmas break and Mosimane will be at the helm when the Brazilians tackle Free State Stars on Wednesday night.