Rulani Mokwena: Mamelodi Sundowns Coach Braces for CAF Champions League Clash Without Star Players

Rulani Mokwena: Mamelodi Sundowns Coach Braces for CAF Champions League Clash Without Star Players

Robert Abong'o
February 21, 2024 at 5:19 PM
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F.C. Nouadhibou
  • Key Mamelodi Sundowns players will be missing in their next CAF Champions League tie
  • Centre-back Mothobi Mvala and right-back Khuliso Mudau have been sidelined due to injury
  • Masandawana take on Mauritanian side Nouadhibou at the Stade de la Capitale on Saturday

Mamelodi Sundowns face a daunting challenge as they gear up for a crucial CAF Champions League encounter against FC Nouadhibou on Saturday, February 24.

Key Sundowns players have been sidelined due to injuries sustained during their stint with Bafana Bafana at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023.

Coach Rulani Mokwena disclosed that central defender Mothobi Mvala and right-back Khuliso Mudau will be absent from the lineup for the group stage match, leaving a noticeable void in the team's defensive setup.

Mamelodi Sundowns defenders Khuliso Mudau and Mothobi Mvala in action in a past match. Photos: Phil Makagoe.
Khuliso Mudau and Mothobi Mvala have been sidelined due to injury. Photos: Phil Makagoe.
Source: Getty Images

Both players are nursing injuries picked up while representing South Africa at the tournament held in Ivory Coast.

Mokwena's announcement came following Sundowns' commanding 6-1 victory over La Masia in the Nedbank Cup last-32 clash on Tuesday, February 21, where Uruguayan forward Gaston Sirino impressed with a hat-trick performance.

The absence of key personnel has been keenly felt, with only left-back Terrence Mashego featuring in the recent match.

Captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and Thapelo Morena were part of Sundowns' starting lineup in their recent league encounter against Orlando Pirates.

Addressing the team's injury woes, the Masandawana coach expressed frustration, particularly highlighting the extended absence expected for Mvala and Mudau. The coach also revealed concerns about other players carrying niggling injuries, emphasizing the challenge of fielding a full-strength squad.

“So with some of the players from Bafana, it is not about whether we want to give them a break. We can't use them at all because they've returned with serious injuries," he said, as quoted on Times Live.

Sundowns currently lead Group A of the Champions League, albeit on goal difference, ahead of TP Mazembe. Mokwena stressed the importance of securing a victory against Nouadhibou to alleviate pressure ahead of their final group match.

Mokwena addresses public criticism

In addition to discussing team dynamics, Mokwena addressed how he handled public criticisms levelled against him by South Africa boss Hugo Broos and TSG Galaxy manager Sead Ramovic. Despite the scrutiny, he maintained a diplomatic stance, pointing out respect and professionalism in handling such matters.

"You are all familiar with some of the things that my colleague at TS Galaxy has said, and I picked up the phone, and I called him directly and raised my displeasure. There were things also said by Hugo Broos. I picked up the phone, called him, directly and raised my displeasure," Mokwena stated, stressing his proactive approach in dealing with the situation, as quoted by iDiski Times.

Rulani Mokwena attracting interest from abroad

Sports Brief reported that Mokwena was attracting interest overseas following South Africa's AFCON 2023 campaign.

Most of the Bafana players play under the young tactician, and they were some of the best players in the team.

South Africa's entire back five, including goalkeeper Ronwen Williams play for the PSL giants.

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Robert Abong'o
Editor - Africa Team
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