JOHANNESBURG – The five Mamelodi Sundowns players who represented Bafana Bafana at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt will be given time off, the club announced on Friday.
Tiyani Mabunda, captain Hlompho Kekana and the attacking trio of Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Lebohang Maboe will be allowed to take at least two weeks off before re-joining their teammates for full pre-season.
While the rest of the Sundowns players have already returned and are in Mpumalanga until Saturday, the group that was with the South African national team is expected to land back in the country this weekend.
Mabunda is the only player who did not get an opportunity to play, with Kekana featuring for the full 90 minutes against Namibia. Subsequent to that he came off the bench against Morocco and Egypt.
Kekana was an unused substitute against Nigeria, who beat Bafana 2-1 in the quarterfinals of Afcon on Wednesday night.
Zwane started all of the group stage matches against Ivory Coast, Namibia and Morocco but was suspended for the Round of 16 clash against the hosts. He returned as a second half substitute in the defeat to the Super Eagles.
Vilakazi beat the odds to recover from a serious injury in October last year while on national team duty to make coach Stuart Baxter’s Afcon squad and also managed to play a role in Bafana’s quarterfinal finish at the tournament.
‘Vila’ also featured in all of the group stage matches, but only formed part of the matchday squad in the knockout phase against Egypt and Nigeria.
Sundowns top goalscorer in the Absa Premiership last season, Maboe, was among several debutants at Afcon and broke into the starting line-up in the first game against the Ivory Coast.
But he did not make any other appearances beyond that.
These five Sunddowns players have been with the national team since June 3 and did not have a an adequate pre-season break.
In managing their load, the club has agreed to give them rest to refresh and recuperate before the opening game of the 2019/20 season, scheduled for August 3.
African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Michael Sherman