Madisha’s maturity will be key against Al Ahly
Hlompho Kekana, Denis Onyango, Tebogo Langerman and Anthony Laffor have served Sundowns with distinction, leading the club when they conquered the continent in 2016 to lift the Caf Champions League for the first time. But the trio is among the club’s old players who can’t keep up with the gruelling demand of challenging for honours on the continent and domestically.
Mosimane has been slowly injecting young blood in the team to ensure that when those players leave, there is a smooth transition instead of an absence of experience and leadership.
Madisha is not only an experienced campaigner at Sundowns, but he also has plenty of experience despite being 25.
The defender will have to play a key role tomorrow in Sundowns’ clash with Al Ahly in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Sundowns’ injury list resembles a hospital with a number of casualties.
“We rested Denis (Onyango) because he has that hamstring that always gives him problems,” Mosimane said after their first training session on Wednesday.
“He had a light session. Coach Wendell (Robinson) is making sure that he is available. It’s good to see Anele (Ngcongca) doing the warm-up, but he still has some irritation with his groin. (Anthony) Laffor is back. Ricardo (Nascimento) had a groin strain. The doctors took a lot of precautions with him and he is back. He had a full session.”
Sundowns’ biggest blow though is the injury to utility player Thapelo Morena.
The versatile Morena can play at right back, in midfield and even forward. His speed was going to come in handy against Al Ahly.
But without him, and Ngcongca not 100%, Sundowns will have to field Madisha at right back instead of central defence.
Madisha has played there before in the junior national teams.
He is calm under pressure and will offer a solid display in defence. He won’t push forward like Morena. But with Al Ahly still smarting from the 5-0 drubbing they were handed by Sundowns, and this match being at home at Cairo International Stadium, the Red Devils will do most of the attacking.
Having a “defender” in that position will be crucial for Sundowns who want to limit any damage in the first leg and then punish Al Ahly at home where they have won every game this season in the Champions League.
The fact that Mosimane will field Morena with no worry is a sign of how much the 25-year-old has grown at the club. He used to be an erratic defender who made silly mistakes at crucial times. He was sent to Highlands Park to get more game time and get used to the high pressure of Premier Division football after doing well in the junior national teams.
Sundowns’ technical team worked with him a lot, especially his positioning and playing the ball at his feet. His composure was his own worst enemy at times. He would be too casual with the ball in dangerous areas, lose it and then the club would be punished.
That composure is now his biggest advantage since he has matured. That will be important against the eight-time African champions.