IT was the most talked about transfer deal in the country in 2004. Peter Ndlovu has joined Chiefs, proclaimed headlines. No, he’s joined Pirates, others retorted. But the Zimbabwe captain ende
d all the speculation by emerging with Patrice Motsepe, the Sundowns president, at a press gathering.
However, the only Ndlovu who is recognisable these days is Dynamos’ Castle Premiership leading scorer, Sandile, who was loaned out by Sundowns at the beginning of the season. We sought to find out if it made business sense to spend a fortune in recruiting Peter while Sandile has proven so lethal this season?
Patrice Motsepe’s knowledge on economic matters should naturally surpass his ability to distinguish between the good and best soccer players.
But the wealthy businessman and Mamelodi Sundowns owner did not need to be a Mr Soccer when presented with an opportunity to choose between Peter Ndlovu and other potential signings.
Here was a reputable, full international with a wealth of experience that spanned more than a decade in the English leagues, including the premiership. He would, no doubt, bring the glory days back to a club that’s forgotten how to celebrate a trophy.
Motsepe, naturally a listener, duly obliged when Paul Dolezar, the then Sundowns coach, presented him with a list of players he wanted in his team. Heading that list was Ndlovu, but he wouldn’t come cheap.
Dolezar did not end there. He drafted another list, this time of players he deemed unworthy of donning the famous Brazilians colours of the Pretoria club. Heading that list, ironically was another Ndlovu, who too happens to be a striker.
So a disillusioned Sandile Ndlovu jumped at the opportunity when Dynamos expressed interest in offering him sanctuary, albeit temporarily.
He was not good enough to make the grade among the “millionaires”, as Sundowns are known these days, so the struggle would have to continue at Dynamos, a sponsorless club that survived relegation only on the final day last season. All this “Sundowns revolution” happened more than six months ago.
Fast forward to the present moment and you wouldn’t be off the mark to conclude Chloorkop, the Sundowns headquarters, is awash with regrets and recriminations.
The Ndlovus spearhead the attacks in their respective teams. However, that’s where the similarities end.
The one — a 24-year-old who is seeing regular action only this season — has proven an instant hit, while the other, his reputation and experience notwithstanding, an absolute miss.
Peter has struggled to justify his reported salary of R160 000 a month, and a record R3 million signing-on fee since Sundowns beat several teams to his signature last winter.
He has scored just six times in more than 15 Castle Premiership appearances which, for a man who earns that kind of a salary, amounts to a staggering R410 000 per goal.
Sandile, on the other hand, has shot to the top of the Premiership scorer’s chart with a creditable 14 goals in 18 matches (he missed two fixtures against Sundowns because of a contractual clause). His goals tally includes a unique record of being the only man to score two hat-tricks this season.
Dynamos were understandably unwilling to disclose his salary, but The Star has established it’s “around R20 000” per month.
Without an injured Peter, Sundowns still managed to beat Dynamos 2-1 at the weekend. That, in effect, means the Pretoria side can cope without the Zimbabwe captain.
Dynamos clearly can’t do without their Ndlovu. He has scored more than half of his club’s premiership goals. “He means everything to the club,” said club marketing manager Sinky Mnisi on Monday. “He’s revived the team from being relegation candidates to being strong top-eight contenders. We are glad to have given him the exposure. Many people first heard of him when he started scoring for us.”
Sundowns claim they have no regrets whatsoever. “We’re actually happy that Sandile has done so well at Dynamos,” said club spokesperson Alex Shakoane. “We wanted him to get action and we would never have established his potential had we not loaned him out. We absolutely have no regrets (on letting him go).”
But could they acknowledge that spending a fortune on their millionaire Ndlovu was not worth it?
“Oh no,” Shakoane retorts. “He’s proven his worth. He has repaid the club all that they’ve spent on him. We’ve definitely got our money back (that we paid for him). If you look at how our support has swelled since his arrival, you’ll see that he’s worth every cent we’ve shed. Our investment in him was money well spent.
“We obviously wanted him to score more goals, but there are other aspects he’s brought into the team. His leadership skills have benefited younger players.”
But Sundowns do not hide the fact that they will recall their Sandile when
his loan period expires at the end of the season. “Whoever wants him will have to buy him from us.