Downs Coaches Given New Mandate By Sporting Director?

Mamelodi Sundowns technical bench
Mamelodi Sundowns technical bench

Mamelodi Sundowns' dominance of South African football has lacked one aspect that the club is trying to get right.

Sundowns have been head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the PSL, particularly when it comes to signing the best players and building a winning team, since Pitso Mosimane took over in 2012.

Read: Downs Squad Balance In Question After Pirates Draw?

Mosimane's successors, co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena have continued where Mosimane left off with the culture of winning trophies.

However, the buying of quality players in the market has undermined the club's interests of giving academy graduates opportunities in the first team.

As reported in edition 1294 of Soccer Laduma, Sundowns are on their way to addressing that shortcoming after the appointment of Sporting Director Flemming Berg.

Berg, a former Chelsea scout and one of the brains behind the development blueprint of the Danish national team, was appointed with the intention of creating a synergy between the youth teams and the senior team.

The Dane specializes in youth talent identification and according to Siya sources, he has already made recommendations to the senior technical team to integrate two academy graduates into the senior setup.

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Soccer Laduma has been led to believe that Cassius Mailula and Ntando Nkosi caught the eye of Berg, who recommended that they be promoted to the senior team.

Mailula, an attacking midfielder, has already made a couple of cameo appearances off the bench this season, which is a good starting point in making a name for himself, in a side that is brimming with quality players mainly bought in the market.

The Brazilians co-coach Mokwena recently admitted that they have not really given development products opportunities in the first team in the last few years but cautioned that they don't want to promote players for the sake of promoting.

"The reality is [that] of course, we want to promote from the youth and maybe in the last few years since we have been given the responsibility to lead, we haven't really given a lot of youngsters from the academy an opportunity," Mokwena told journalists in a press conference.

"But we have to be very careful not to promote for the sake of promoting and looking like we are trying to popularize this thing of youngsters given a chance," he said.

"When they are ready, we try our level best to give them opportunities. I think Ntando is going to be very special, Cassius is going to be something very special and then of course the reality is that when these young ones are playing with some of the best players in the country, they get to learn and improve.

"It's not about winning that competition of who is promoting the most players," he added.

Soccer Laduma looks at academy graduates at big clubs, Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns currently active in the senior team.

Chiefs: Itumeleng Khune, Bruce Bvuma, Zitha Kwinika, Siyabonga Ngezana, Happy Mashiane, Njabulo Blom, Sabelo Radebe, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Keletso Sifama, Mduduzi Shabalala.

Pirates: Kopano Thuntsane (GK), Thabiso Monyane, Sandile Mthethwa.

Sundowns: Sphelele Mkhulise, Cassius Mailula, Ntando Nkosi.

It remains to be seen how Downs plan to integrate youngsters and continue to build for the future.

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