JOHANNESBURG. — Zimbabwe football legend Peter Ndlovu could be in the firing line, as part of a looming purge at Mamelodi Sundowns.
This follows an extraordinary outburst by club president, Patrice Motsepe, yesterday promising heads could roll at the South African champions.
The billionaire businessman was forced to issue a public apology, and promise dismissals, over the farce that saw the team nearly stripped of their domestic Treble.
Sundowns were embroiled in controversy when they nearly fielded a suspended player in their Nedbank Cup final triumph over Bloemfontein Celtic earlier this month.
The Celtic complaint, centred on Sundowns including suspended defender, Tebogo Langerman, in their squad for the Nedbank Cup final.
Sundowns won 1-0 at Orlando Stadium.
The complaint by the Bloemfontein club was last week thrown out by the PSL disciplinary committee.
However, this has taken some gloss off the treble, which the Pretoria side won, with some suggesting Celtic were not given a fair hearing.
Former Warriors captain, Ndlovu, was targeted by some furious Sundowns fans, amid calls for him to be axed, over the debacle.
Those critics claimed Ndlovu, who is the Sundowns team manager, failed to discharge his duties by confirming Langerman wasn’t eligible for the match.
However, it was later revealed the former Warriors skipper wasn’t in charge of the team management duties for that match.
That responsibility fell to Musi Mtlaba, a member of the Sundowns team management.
However, club owner, Mosimane, came out guns blazing yesterday and said, if need be, there will be casualties in the wake of the debacle.
“I would like to apologise to all the supporters, and members of the Mamelodi Sundowns Family, as well as the organisations that are involved in football and all the people who love and follow football in South Africa and on the rest of the African Continent, for Tebogo Langerman being listed as a substitute during the recent Nedbank Cup final, contrary to the rules of the PSL and SAFA,” he said in a statement.
“In my capacity as president of Mamelodi Sundowns I am responsible and accountable for everything that happens at Mamelodi Sundowns, whether I knew or did not know or was not aware or involved in the matter.
“Our preliminary investigation indicates that the management and technical team were grossly negligent and this behaviour and conduct is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“A formal disciplinary hearing will be held as soon as possible and the appropriate action, including dismissal where the circumstances legally justify, will be implemented.”
After the victory over Celtic, coach Pitso Mosimane was taken aback, during the online post-match press conference, when quizzed about the Langerman debacle.
“I’m not aware of that,” Mosimane responded when asked if he knew Langerman was suspended.
“I’m not aware of that. How come you are asking me, as the coach? I’ll ask the club.”
Mosimane remained confident the history books will record that Sundowns fairly won the 2020 Nedbank Cup.
“You know my opinion about football, you must win football on the pitch,” he responded when asked again about the Langerman matter.
“If you have to win outside the pitch because there’s something like this or that . . . okay, if you win you win, you know how you won.
“You know how football is. Bloemfontein Celtic in 2012 they won the Telkom (Knock-out) Cup (against Sundowns) with a ball that never crossed the line. Who talks about it now?
“I don’t do admin at the club, I don’t do that. I focus on coaching the team and if I have reports on certain issues, of course, I can’t be a coach who doesn’t observe all those things.
“But I don’t know about that. I’m not aware at this point in time. The management will have to tell us about all this. But you must win on the pitch, neh?
“Imagine you are going to raise the trophy . . .” Oh, by the way there was this thing’ and where’s the trophy? And then you celebrate. I mean really.”
Former referee, Ace Ncobo, who also worked as the South African PSL manager, had revealed it was unlikely Sundowns would lose their Nedbank Cup trophy.
“Let’s start with participation. He was on the bench. Did he participate? In terms of Rule 16.5, a player who is named in the Team Sheet is deemed to have participated in the match,’’ tweeted Ncobo.
“So, indeed Langerman participated.
“Did Celtic lodge a valid protest? From what I’m able to gather, Celtic made a submission after the match, which would then categorise their submission as a complaint rather than a protest.
“A protest regarding the ineligibility of a player can only be valid when submitted to the referee, in the presence of the opposing captain and an assistant referee no less than 30 minutes prior to kick-off (Rule 51.3).’’
But, for Motsepe, it’s the image of his club that matters and, according to his furious reaction yesterday, heads will have to roll even though they kept their trophy. — Sports Reporter/Kick-Off