The reigning domestic league Champions cruised past the KwaZulu-Natal side with three different goal scorers, an own goal and handed a debut to 16-year old Siyabonga Mabena on an enjoyable evening at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. The win moved Masandawana to 59 points after 23 games in the domestic league competition and leaving them with a possible 21 more points to collect from the remaining 7 games.
“Congratulations to the supporters, I thought again they helped us and got us over the line. I am so proud of these football players, another very good performance, great display of football, confidence, intensity and good fight.
The Brazilians introduced one of their youngest players in their battle with Royal, 16-year old Siyabonga Mabena graced the football pitch with 15 minutes left to play, replacing his senior Themba Zwane. Mabena is amongst the young players called up in the 30-man preliminary squad to represent South Africa at the U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria from 29 April to 19 May. Downs Head Coach applauded the backbreaking work that goes into bringing raw talent into their senior side, he said:
“Youngsters [like] Ntando Nkosi and Cassius Mailula, they are a reflection of 1: The investment of the club. 2: The hard work of the academy staff and everyone involved and then of course the talents that they have, so yeah exciting. Patient with Mabena, so many of these youngsters have so many of these qualities. Be a little bit patient, allow us to coach them, allow us to show them and to try to help them.”
“They are very privileged, imagine every single day and you’re 16-years old training with Themba Zwane, Peter Shalulile, Surprise Ralani and so many others. I mean you have to dribble past Mothobi Mvala and Khuliso Mudau every day. These kids are very privileged, let them continue. It’s one step at a time and we try to improve them as much as we can, it’s good for Mamelodi Sundowns future and it’s good for South African Football.”
Masandawana are at the verge of successfully defending the Premier Soccer League and being crowned champions for a record sixth consecutive season. Coach Rulani took it upon himself to give a breakdown of the type of personalities that his troops possess and contribute to these winning margins, he said:
“I think I just see incredibly gifted football players, that’s what I see. I learn a lot from them. I’ve never seen human beings like this before and I think the story that they are telling is a life lesson for a lot of people, that if you put your profession first then you put the club first and this is what they do every single day.”
“They don’t have issues, they love each other, they live with everybody. You put a youngster in, they accommodate, they don’t look down on people, they don’t have gripes and that’s why God blesses them like this. They teach me that life is not about you. I think that’s what helps to be a top Sundowns player, is that you’re just a good human being”
“Imagine two days after you beat Al Ahly, you have to come and play Royal AM and you have to do it for the badge. They run, they sacrifice, they don’t see their families and then they are still with that intensity and mentality [of] constantly moving into that space and they put the club first with everything that they do.”
Mamelodi Sundowns prepare to do battle with Al-Hilal Omdurman on Saturday, 18.