Downs coach blasts players

New Mamelodi Sundowns coach Henry Michel fired a broadside at his players claiming they did not understand the basics of soccer after they were humiliated 2-0 by a highly charged Platinum Stars in an Absa Premiership clash played at the Super Stadium on Sunday.

It was the second successive home defeat for Downs.

Last Sunday they lost 1-0 to Moroka Swallows at the same venue.

The former France, Tunisia and Moroccan national coach has a massive job on his hands picking up the pieces when the highly paid Brazilians face Maritzburg United in what could be a make or break Premiership clash for Downs at the Super Stadium on Wednesday night.

Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Michel was fuming when discussing what went wrong against Stars and seriously questions their ability to challenge for the Premiership title.

“You saw what happed out there. I do not want to say much until I go home and think about what happened,” he said.

But then Michel decided to open up and stated: “My players do not understand the basics of the game. When did you see us string two passes together today?”

When asked what the problem was, the straight-talking Frenchman said: “I do not have one but many problems to solve. I just do not believe what I am seeing.”

His first problem is obvious—his overpaid and under-achieving players are not scoring goals. But it is the lack of commitment that must be tearing the new Downs coach apart.

The players lacked urgency or the will to rise and challenge Stars after their Colombian striker Luis Renteria scored in each half.

The South American made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute, which still gave Downs time to fight back and salvage something from this match.

But Downs were content to go through the motions. They never threatened Stars, and Maritzburg United coach Gordon Igesund will be hoping to repeat what Stars coach Miguel Gamondi achieved and go home three points richer.

Both Gamondi and Igesund are former Downs coaches and both won the Premiership title with the Brazilians.

But they were axed by the club’s impatient president, Patrice Motsepe, whose decision to appoint Michel—who has no knowledge of South African soccer—is starting to unravel.

Michel replaced former Bafana Bafana coach Trott Moloto who has been demoted to a scout for the club.

Igesund will be itching to get to the Super Stadium on Wednesday and further exploit Sundowns’ weaknesses and help himself to three points and make it three defeats at home in a row for Downs—something that the club has never suffered before.

Gamondi was smiling after the comfortable win over the sluggish Downs, but he is too professional to put the boot into his former club.

Said Gamondi: “We came into the match under pressure after we were beaten 4-1 at home by Thanda Royal Zulu last weekend. I was thrilled by the way we bounced back and by the spirit and character the players showed.

“It is always worrying to a coach when a side goes down heavily.”

The Argentine coach added he could not understand why his side had lost to heavily to Thanda:

“We lost three goals in five minutes but otherwise played well. So today against Downs I knew we faced an acid test and we passed with flying colours.”

He said his time as coach of Downs helped but added: “Sundowns have changed so much, but I figured how they would play after watching them lose 1-0 to Moroka Swallows last weekend.”

What Gamondi found surprising was how many top stars were sitting on the bench.

Said Gamondi: “When I saw Benedict Vilakazi, Lerato Chabangu, Surprise Moriri and Dillon Sheppard on the bench, I was happy. I would have played all four in my starting line-up.

“I then realised that Downs were vulnerable in the centre of midfield and in defence which we exploited and got both goals.

“It could have been more but I am more than happy with the2-0 win.”

Stars face two tough games before completing their 2008 programme.

They play leaders and new Telkom Knockout champions winners Ajax Cape Town at Mafikeng on Wednesday and then meet Kaizer Chiefs at Rustenburg’s Olympia Park on Saturday.

Said Gamondi: “Those two fixtures are a tough way to end the year but after beating Sundowns our confidence has been restored.”—Sapa

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