Mamelodi Sundowns are setting the standard of South African football currently but they could be on their way to implementing a coaching tactic that could have been influenced by Kaizer Chiefs.
Chiefs raised eyebrows when they signed an unknown striker in 2019, who was playing in the second-tier of Slovakian football, Samir Nurkovic and there were a lot of skepticism for his signing by former coach Ernst Middendorp.
As history has proven, Nurkovic went on to prove the doubters wrong, giving Amakhosi a different attacking dimension, given his big physique, pace and aerial ability.
The Serbian striker was one of the stars for Amakhosi in his debut 2019/20 season, where he inspired the Glamour Boys to be at the top of the log for a bigger part of that season, before the Naturena-based side bottled the league title in the final matchday.
Perhaps he has not recovered since then, as he is yet to regain that form, going into the second season now but his signing proved to be a master troke from Chiefs.
Sundowns, meanwhile, although they were did not win the league title in a convincing manner in the 2019/20 season under former coach Pitso Mosimane, new co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, assisted by Steve Komphela, clinched last season's DStv Premiership title quite comfortably, with their nearest challengers, AmaZulu finishing 13 points behind them in second place.
Mngqithi, Mokwena and Komphela had their first opportunity to make their own signings in the past off-season and one of the signings, that was strange was that of Slovakian striker Pavol Safranko.
Generally, Safranko does not appear to be the Sundowns type of player, a physical specimen, who would need crosses into the area to get goals, which is not how the Brazilians normally play.
After a few performances this season, Safranko is yet to convince that he can start consistently for the Tshwane giants but perhaps Sundowns coaches were influenced by Middendorp, in signing the Slovakian.
"I felt that Castro and Billiat were a little isolated last season (2018/19) but Nurkovic has given them the space to play because he needs a lot of attention inside the box‚" Middendorp explained the rationale behind signing Nurkovic, as quoted by SowetanLive.
Safranko may not be pleasing on the eye but perhaps Sundowns coaches need his physical presence in and around the box to take the attention of defenders, where he always leaves a lot space for the likes of Peter Shalulile and other attackers to pounce.
So the Slovakian could have been a tactical signing than a recruitment that needs to be pleasing on the eye.
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