Alton Meiring lauds Mamelodi sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane for sticking with Yannick Zakri
Posted: 26 May 2017 Time: 09:27
Retired striker Alton Meiring says Yannick Zakri’s tale exemplifies the patience that needs to be practised with a new forward in the pressure cooker environment at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Zakri had a slow and rough start to life at Sundowns after arriving from ASEC Mimosas, prompting trigger-happy critics to dismiss him as a top-flight star.
However, Brazilians coach Pitso Mosimane stuck with his man, who spoke not a word of English when he arrived from French-speaking Ivory Coast last August, with Zakri rewarding that trust by scoring five goals in his last six league appearances.
“Patience is needed for a striker who is in a completely foreign environment like what Zakri met upon arriving here [in South Africa]. Never underestimate the need for patience,” Meiring tells KickOff.com.
While it took Zakri as many as 18 appearances in all competitions to eventually break his scoring duck, his quick-fire tally of five goals has left him amongst the higher-scoring forwards at Chloorkop in 2016/17.
“The first time I saw that guy [Zakri] play for Sundowns, I noticed that he has a very good first touch, the kind that I refer to as a positive touch which defines just how good a footballer one is,” Meiring says.
“Then I noticed he has the kind of movement needed in the modern game and is always looking for openings in his play. I knew right away that this guy can score because his play also showed he has an eye for goal and all that he needs is to be played up front around certain players.
“However, being a foreigner it was normal that it will take time for him [to adapt]. Unfortunately, people must not forget that he comes from a different environment there in his country [Ivory Coast] compared to Gauteng where he obviously had to wake up and realise that he doesn’t have to be blinkered by the good money.
“I am not surprised that he is now coming through this way at all because of the patience of the coach [Pitso Mosimane]. Unfortunately, we are a football community that has no patience in our players, we are just quick to judge yet here is a footballer that could have been lost yet he has shown he is not afraid to take his chances,” explains Meiring.
Meiring himself spent time at Sundowns just after the turn of the new millennium, struggling to make an impact before leaving.