Coach Manqoba Provides Update On Player Progress

Mamelodi Sundowns have been able to grind out wins and keep clean sheets despite the challenges they face in central defense caused by their overwhelming number of injured players such as Grant Kekana and Rivaldo Coetzee who had long term injuries, and recently Mosa Lebusa who has joined the list. The Brazilians recently carved out a hard fought win in their midweek encounter against Chippa United, with Peter Shalulile scoring at the closing end of the second half and the team went on to keep a clean sheet. During Bafana Ba Style’s encounter against the Chili Boys, supporters witnessed one of their midfielders taking up a new role in the space of defenders, Mothobi Mvala proved all doubters’ wrongs when he was paired up with Rushine De Reuck as center halves, the 28-year-old not only took up a new role, but also played the whole game and hailed appraisals from Coach Manqoba who gave a glowing review of of the players, he said:

“Mothobi was playing his first match today as a central defender and he played exceptionally well. I strongly believe that he performed better than many so-called top center backs, in my opinion he’s still going to continue. If I were to give you my honest opinion, I think he will be a better center back than most center backs in the country, because technically some of the mistakes that he makes it’s because maybe they require a lot of scanning, but if the game is in front of him I think he’s one of the best passers on the ball.”

Despite it being an overly positive summer for The Brazilians, efforts were made to bring in new player signings to strengthen the illustrious squad, amongst the new recruits is long-term serving midfielder Bongani Zungu who had left the club in July 2016 to join Portuguese-based side Vitoria de Guimaraes. Downs supporters and followers have been full of questions since the unveiling of the maestro at Loftus Versfeld Stadium almost a month ago, wondering when the player will be seen in action, Coach Manqoba addressed the suspense around Zungu’s readiness to feature in games, he said:

“As for Zungu, in our planning we are thinking that maybe that first Champions League match he might be available for that one and that is according to the preparations that we are doing considering that he did not have a proper preseason with us, but at the moment I must be honest I think that the guys that are there are doing a good job. I think [Andile Jali] AJ is on top of his game, I think Teboho [Mokoena] is doing very well [and] Neo [Maema] as well. The players that we have given a chance to [play], to be honest have really done well [and] that is giving us a little bit of time to prepare him without a rush because we don’t want him to break down and we are faced with a problem. But we do believe that he’s going to come in handy at the right time when the season really demands that we should have our depth.”

The Tshwane giants also revealed another gem for the season, viewed as one of the most talented young midfielders in the DStv Diski Challenge, Cassius Mailula made his debut for the first team in Masandawana’s 1-0 triumph over Chippa on Wednesday night in Port Elizabeth. The 20-year-old Wizard is a well known Sundowns academy graduate and recently formed part of Masandawana’s preseason preparations, Coach Manqoba complimented the young blood that has entered their home. 

“If you look at what we are trying to do, we are trying to get the age of the team lower and lower and that is why even if you check the signings that we are bringing in, we are trying to get younger and younger [players] because at a certain point we had an aging team and it was worrying. It made us always ask ourselves if we had a breakdown what would happen? The good thing about  the youngsters that we have promoted, Mailula and Ntando [Nkosi] were not just promoted because we wanted to give youngsters a chance, [but rather] they were promoted because they’ve done exceptionally well and I still believe that they are going to offer far more than what people have seen from them.”

“To be honest [about] Mailula we even considered starting this match with him because he did exceptionally well in a friendly that we were playing against Cape Town All Stars, and we felt that maybe if we could give him a start it would also inject something very early in the season. It’s important to induct these players into the team [because] they are going to be very important and they also induce a little bit of intensity even in our training sessions because they are young.”

Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with Golden Arrows on Saturday, 10 September in the DStv Premiership at TUKS Stadium. Kick off is at 20H00, live on SuperSport TV.

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