The Mamelodi Sundowns Magazine crew sat down with former Bafana Bafana coach and technical adviser Trott ‘Trappa’ Moloto, to learn more. Over the years, the highly-rated Trappa has served the Brazilians in numerous capacities − as a Club Manager, Technical Director, Head Scout and Club Advisor.
On the club’s evolution through the years, Coach Moloto stated that “Mamelodi Sundowns is a club of humble beginnings. During my playing days, the club was owned by two team doctors, Dr Motsiri Itsweng and Dr Bonny Sebotsane, who supported the team immensely until Zola Mahobe bought the club in 1985. Mahobe’s arrival took the club to another level as he was interested in transforming the team to compete with the best. He bought some very experienced players and hired Stanley 'Screamer' Tshabalala as a coach. I was then retired as a player and was made an assistant to Tshabalala. That period was a game-changer for the club with several players brought in to improve the side. The partnership of Mahobe and Tshabalala changed the mentality of the club and the team evolved into a force to be reckoned with as several trophies were won in a very short space of time. That laid the foundation for the upward trajectory of the club ever since, and no matter the changes in the hierarchy, the club has maintained the winning mentality. Even when I left the team at the time to coach other clubs, Sundowns continued the legacy of winning trophies.”
Coach Moloto also went ahead to shed light on the team’s famous playing style – Shoe Shine and Piano.
“Under Mahobe's leadership, the mentality of the club was revamped. As an assistant to Screamer, we were keen to transform the club into a super brand and that we did. One of the teams that caught our eyes was the Brazil national team. The club adopted the Brazilian kit and colours to emulate the excellence of the yellow and blue of Brazil, who were already among the most famous National Teams in the world having won three FIFA World Cups at the time. That is what prompted the club’s nickname – The Brazilians. Screamer then had the opportunity to visit Italy and even attended some of the training sessions of some of the strongest Italian teams such as AC Milan and Juventus. What Screamer picked up was an Italian expression ‘piano’ and asked for the interpretation which he was told meant ‘easy’. The concept meant building up play from the back, neat passing through tight spaces, holding up play confidently and keeping things calm while dominating the opponent. That was how the club adopted the famed Shoe Shine and Piano. At the time, the club brought in players and even goalkeepers who would fit into that philosophy and style of play, which has been the bedrock of the team’s incredible ability to play the ball with minimal fuss.”
One constant feature about the Brazilians is the will to maintain the vision of the club despite the periodic changes on-and-off the pitch. That means no matter who was (is) acquired, the mentality remains highly revered, something that resonates with Sundowns which has fast propelled the club to become South Africa's football royalty.
According to coach Moloto, “It has been a wonderful journey at Sundowns. This is because since Mahobe came into the picture, the club grew stronger. Several eras have come and gone after Mahobe and the playing style, attitude, philosophy and results have gotten better no matter the changes in the hierarchy and the dug-out. That is why most of the coaches who have come here have managed to fit in like a glove. It’s all about working together as a team and helping each other to succeed. The team also possesses a wonderful scouting system that has enabled the team to strengthen its core every season.”
Collecting league title after league title, Sundowns has brought a transitory end to the sporadic league control between the likes of SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits. In the last four years, Downs has been untouchable at the PSL summit. The triangular combo of Manqoba Mngqithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela worked magic in the outgone season, tasting league defeat just once, to become the first club to go an entire season unbeaten on the road.