Why Mokwena, Downs stars should sit out Sekhukhune clash

Rhulani Mokwena is being encouraged to sit out Mamelodi Sundowns’ Premiership clash.

Rhulani Mokwena is being encouraged to sit out Mamelodi Sundowns’ Premiership clash.

Published Apr 23, 2024



Such are the stakes for Mamelodi Sundowns in their coming CAF Champions League semi-final second leg clash against Esperance, that you’d have expected the PSL to give them a break from domestic competition.

That has not happened, though, and the Brazilians have to host a high-flying Sekhukhune United at Loftus Versfeld tonight with one eye on Friday’s must-win tie against the Tunisians, who beat them 1-0 at the weekend.

Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi. | BackpagePix
Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper coach Wendell Robinson. | BackpagePix

What does Rhulani Mokwena do in such a situation?

The argument from many would be that it is not a crisis, given Sundowns’ massive strength in depth. Mokwena, they will charge, should be able to field a full team of players who were not part of the one that lost in Tunisia. And that is true, the young coach having already done so.

He needs to have all his wits about him for Friday’s clash, though, and wouldn’t it help Sundowns were Mokwena to sit this one out, along with the team he intends to field against Esperance?

Let Manqoba Mngqithi and Wendell Robinson take charge of the match against Sekhukhune, while Mokoena and his players recuperate and set their minds on the big task on Friday.

But Sundowns is his, and being the perfectionist he is, bet on Mokwena to be fully in charge and focused tomorrow as he seeks to add the three points that will take Sundowns that much closer to yet another championship title that is essentially guaranteed. And while he is sure to rest most of the key players, bet on Mokwena to still put out a strong team to put Sekhukhune to the sword.

He will live every moment of tonight’s match with his team, cajole them to venture forward in search of goals, berate them for a move gone wrong, cheer them when they make successful moves and celebrate passionately when they score.

You see, there are no half-measures where Rulani Mokwena is concerned. He is an all-in coach. How that will affect his chances of reaching his maiden Champions League final as a head coach will be seen on Friday.

What Sekhukhune can be assured of is that they are not going to come across a lukewarm or distracted Sundowns side focusing on the massive tie they have against Esperance on Friday night. And just as they were 2-1 winners in Polokwane back in August, you can bet Mokwena and his team – irrespective of who he puts in the starting line-up – will be going out for a similar, if not better outcome tonight.