Pitso Mosimane’s 10 best signings at Downs

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It has been eight years since Pitso Mosimane took over the coaching reigns at Mamelodi Sundowns.

The ex-Bafana Bafana coach has achieved great success with as many as 9 trophies, including the 2016 CAF Champions League title. To achieve success, Mosimane has had to rely on his coaching abilities, as well as the playing personnel.

FARPost selects the 10 best signings Mosimane has made while in charge of the ‘Brazilians’ from 2 December 2012, when he arrived at the club.

10. Andile Jali

‘AJ’ has been a dominant force in the middle of the park in the 48 games he’s played since joining Sundowns as a free agent in 2018. It wasn’t always a bed of roses. Jali had to prove his fitness to break into the Sundowns team and once he assured Mosimane of his commitment to the cause, he’s been a regular.

“He lost a lot of weight, he’s on top of his training programme and he is playing week in, week out. It is unbelievable that we have him like this, it just shows that it is possible and I think he should be an example to other players to say you can turn around,” stated Mosimane.

9. Thabo Nthethe

‘Mr Cool’ was a big influence in Sundowns’s defence playing 112 games between 2014 and 2018. The former Bloemfontein Celtic captain was rock solid alongside Wayne Arendse, despite suggestions that they were both slow.

“I will definitely say myself and Wayne silenced the critics. We communicate a lot. He is a person who is very quiet off the pitch, but on the pitch he talks a lot. I also talk at lot and, like I’ve said, that made it much easier for us to gel in central defence and to defend against such quality players that we come up against in the PSL,” Nthethe said some years ago.

8. Ricardo Nascimento

If it wasn’t for the injuries, the Brazilian would have contributed even more to Sundowns’s success. He has 101 appearances to his name and being a reliable penalty taker, he has 13 goals. Mosimane has always spoken highly of the centre-back, highlighting the fact that he’s rare considering he’s left-footed.

“I followed him for a year (while he played for Portuguese side, Academica) and he is similar to Thabo Nthethe, but with a left foot. But you know the Brazilians, they know how to play,” said Mosimane a while back.

7. Tiyani Mabunda

It appeared his career at Sundowns was doomed at some stage, especially after he was loaned out to Free State Stars in 2014. Following his return to Chloorkop, ‘Shuga’ has gone on to make 142 appearances and has played his heart out in central midfield in keeping the opposition at bay.

“He has been good to me. He has been exceptional. He is one of those players that play with their heart on their sleeve, and I have to be loyal to him,” Mosimane once said of Mabunda.

6. Sibusiso Vilakazi

‘Villa’ has had some injury troubles but since joining from Bidvest Wits in 2016, he’s managed to play 111 games, scored 28 goals and contributed 19 assists. Vilakazi was signed on the back of a good stay at Wits, where he was the star man and was PSL Footballer of the Season in the 2013/14 season.

A lot more was expected from him at Downs, but he’s had to endure injuries, which have limited his contribution, but he’s done enough to make the list.

5. Keagan Dolly

The flying winger has since moved to France, where he’s in the books of Montpellier. But between 2015 and 2017, he played 60 games under Mosimane. Dolly scored 10 goals and contributed 11 assists during his time with Sundowns, forming CBD (Castro, Billiat, Dolly).

4. Thapelo Morena

Morena’s move from Bloemfontein Celtic to Sundowns in 2016 was thought to be some ‘career suicide’, but he’s proven to be a valuable addition to the team over the years. ‘MaTrapa’, as he’s affectionately known, has played 145 matches for Downs in different positions, including right-back, winger and even as a striker at times. He has 9 goals and 18 assists to his name and Mosimane would be pleased with his purchase.

3. Gaston Sirino

Sirino, middle, with Mosimane and Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe when he was unveiled in 2018.

Sirino was unveiled alongside Jeremy Brockie, Aubrey Ngoma and Siyabonga Zulu in January 2018. Few would have noticed, especially because Brockie, from SuperSport United, was the most talked about transfer at the time, followed by Ngoma, who had done well at Cape Town City to earn the move. Sirino, however, has proved to be the most successful of the quartet with 90 appearances, 22 goals and 26 assists.

2. Bongani Zungu

The SA international has gone on to play in Europe, first at Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal and now based in France turning out for Amiens SC. ‘Ben 10’ played 68 times for the ‘Brazilians’ between 2013 and 2016, made a big impact that made European scouts sit down and take notice.

1. Khama Billiat

Billiat was snapped up from Ajax Cape Town in the 2013/14 season and proved a great success at the Tshwane club, before leaving for Kaizer Chiefs in 2018. Billiat scored 47 goals in 140 appearances during a successful spell at Chloorkop, as well as coming up with 43 assists.

“You must know that I took this boy as a 22-year-old from Ajax Cape Town; they were flirting with relegation and I told him that he’s the greatest player Zimbabwe has ever produced and [would be] a big player for Sundowns. I sold him the vision and look what happened when Khama was on the pitch,” Mosimane told SAFM earlier this year.

SPECIAL MENTIONS: Leonardo Castro (16 goals in 62 games), Kennedy Mweene (41 clean sheets in 95 games), Anele Ngcongca (97 appearances), Mosa Lebusa (58 appearances) and Asavela Mbekile (56 appearances),

*This top 10 list excludes players who were promoted from Sundowns’s Reserves, including the likes of Percy Tau.

FACT

Mosimane was named CAF Coach of the Year for 2016 after Sundowns’s success on the continent.

RELATED STORY: Pitso’s message to SA

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

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