Neeskens makes tearful exit
Johannesburg – Johan Neeskens broke down and shed tears after Mamelodi Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe sacked him on Sunday in the aftermath of the Telkom Knockout final defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.
Motsepe, the Sundowns president, summoned the entire team to the club’s Chloorkop headquarters on Sunday, where Neeskens was told his services would no longer be required.
A Sundowns insider, who requested not to be named, revealed exact circumstances relating to Neeskens’ firing.
“We usually have what we call a warm-down training a day after the match, but when the players got there today, Neeskens was told there was no need for the team to train as the president (Motsepe) was on his way,” the insider said.
Upon his arrival, Motsepe held a separate, brief meeting with Neeskens where he sacked him, and the Dutchman emerged with tears streaming down his face. “It was a sad moment. He was very emotional,” the source added.
While he was still bidding farewell to staff members and players, Neeskens’s agony will have been amplified by the presence of Pitso Mosimane – who takes over as head coach with immediate effect – in Chloorkop almost minutes following his sacking. “Pitso was here a few minutes after the news was broken to us. He was actually in the boardroom negotiating his contract when Neeskens was saying his goodbyes to the players,” the insider said.
Details of Mosimane’s contract were not immediately available, but it is expected that the former Bafana Bafana coach will be offered a long-term deal as Motsepe has long wanted him at Chloorkop.
Mosimane has previously turned down the Sundowns job, notably twice in 2006 when Motsepe failed in his attempts to convince him not to join the Bafana technical set up.
He has been jobless since the SA Football Association fired him as Bafana coach on June 4, although he’s still pursuing a case of unfair dismissal in the Labour Court after he rejected Safa’s settlement offer.
Motsepe spoke of his excitement to finally land the man he had chased for some time, having admired Mosimane’s work with Sundowns’ neighbours, SuperSport United, between 2001 and 2006.
“I’m excited to welcome Pitso to Sundowns and I’m confident that he will contribute to the success and growth of the club,” the billionaire said in a statement.
Mosimane, however, faces a difficult task clearing the mess Neeskens leaves behind. He inherits a dispirited dressing room which sunk further into a rut after the 1-0 loss to Celtic in Durban at the weekend.
But the ever demanding Motsepe is unlikely to give him time to settle. “Pitso’s first major task is to ensure that we win games and finish in a respectable position in the Premiership, taking into account the very high standards we set for ourselves,” Motsepe’s statement continued.
“Our current position on the log is extremely embarrassing and we have to restore the dignity and pride of Sundowns.”
Neeskens, meanwhile, is expected to pocket a handsome payout as his contract still had over three years to run, although if it has a performance clause, Downs could invoke it.
On Saturday, the Dutchman had remained defiant after losing out on the Knockout, justifying his bizarre tactics. “Listen, I made a decision and I don’t have to explain it,” he quipped when asked about Samuel Julies starting ahead of Anthony Laffor, and Elias Pelembe not even making the matchday squad.
Sundowns’ first match under Mosimane is a tough away trip to Free State Stars on Wednesday (Charles Mopeli, 7.30pm). – The Star