Mamelodi Sundowns returned to Chloorkop to start their preparations for the second half of the season and a handful of players showed up to their first training session on Monday, 28 November. The Brazilians are preparing to defend their title in the 2022-23 campaign which is set to get under way with a mouthwatering encounter in three weeks from now against Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Downs Head Coach Rulani Mokwena slightly gave an update on the state of his troops, he said:
“The condition of the players is looking good, we’ve gone into week two now since the return and we’ve progressed into playing two friendly matches. From a physical perspective it looks a lot better and we are getting a lot closer to match readiness and preparing the team for what’s going to be a very difficult second part of the season.”
Coach Rulani continued to give more details about the team’s pre-season training schedule and location where they will set up their camp to get preparations underway: “We are just going for a couple of days to a week. [We are] looking to get a couple of friendly matches [while] trying to monitor and control diet, rest and the recovery of the players in the short space of time and also try to mimic what could be a very difficult January with games between two days, three days and that’s the whole purpose of the camp.”
“[We will] try to also get a little bit closer to game rhythm and match intensity. There’s still lots of work to be done for sure, but I’m looking forward to working together for a couple of days and being together and trying to push the team’s cohesion and togetherness in Polokwane for the next seven days.”
The Tshwane giants were unfortunate to witness a number of their players fall into the long list of injured players during their opening round of the season. Summer arrival Morocco international defender Abdelmounaim Boutouil and Masandawana’s best marksman Peter Shalulile were among those ruled out due to injuries as the season approached the FIFA international break.
“We’ve been a little bit unlucky with injuries, but we’ve also been quite lucky because it has come at a period where there are not a lot of official games. We are looking to get Peter Shalulile back to the green grass within the next week or so. Haashim Domingo has made very, very good progress and that’s something that excites us. [Sphelele] Mkhulise came off [during] the Carling Black Label and he’s also coming closer to returning from [his] injury.” Said the head coach as he went through the list of his injured troops.
“Bradley Ralani is coming closer to also starting conditioning work with the physical trainers and gradually being integrated into team training [but] still a bit off from being ready for selection for matches or friendly matches. Erwin Saavedra is making steady progress and he is also looking to be integrated into the team’s training. Cassius Mailula is also working very hard and getting back to a condition where he’s ready for training with the conditioning team and the last is Mosa Lebusa [who is] also making some very, very good progress. Abubeker Nassir is back, he’s training with the team but also still a bit over way off in relation to his condition.”
“We only have two long term injury concerns which is that both Abdul Boutouil and Terrence Mashego have gone under the knife and undergone surgery. Majority of the players are making good progress [and] a lot of credit needs to not only go to them for the work that they’ve been putting in, but also a lot of credit and praise for the medical staff and the biokineticist for also overseeing a lot of injury concerns and complications. Hopefully by the time we get to Polokwane and upon our return we will have a lot more players available on the green grass training with the team and looking to prepare for the second part of the season.”