Mamelodi Sundowns R500 000 lighter going into rare weekend off
CAPE TOWN - Mamelodi Sundowns find themselves in unfamiliar territory this weekend.
Not only are they lamenting dropping points against rookies TTM – the first time they haven’t achieved a 3-0 winning scoreline in four league matches – but they also have a seven-day break until their next match against Cape Town City on Wednesday night.
For a team that regularly competes in a number of competitions, including the African Champions League, the notion of a weekend off is almost unimaginable.
This is due to the MTN8 semi-finals being contested this weekend, which Sundowns will, of course, not be part of after their shock quarter-final defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic a fortnight ago.
Joint head coach Manqoba Mngqithi is not perturbed though, as he views it as the ideal opportunity for him and fellow coaches Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela to work with the new players in a bid to help them acclimatise quicker to the Brazilians style of play.
Thirteen new players, which includes Khuliso Mudau, Lesedi Kapinga (both Black Leopards), Kermit Erasmus (Cape Town City), Aubrey Modiba (SuperSport United), Jody February (Cape Umoya United), Grant Magerman (Ajax Cape Town), George Maluleka (Kaizer Chiefs), Ricardo Goss, Gift Motupa and Haashim Domingo (all Bidvest Wits), Luvuyo Phewa (Real Kings), Peter Shalulile and Mothobi Mvala (both Highlands Park), all joined the treble champions for the new 2020-21 season.
Both Shalulile and Erasmus opened their goalscoring accounts for their new club in the league opener against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium, but Mngqithi knows there is more to come from them with a bit more preparation on the training ground.
“We still have issues with adaptations for some of the players and trying to integrate everyone into the squad. This period gives us an opportunity to work with the players without the pressure of preparing for a game and to work on aspects of the game in the way we want the team to play,” Mngqithi said after the goalless draw against TTM.
“Our wing play is not as quick as we would like. The movement of the ball, the speed of the ball, is not what we want to expose opponents in areas where they may not have numerical superiority. We are working very hard on these aspects.
“But we are encouraged by some of the things they are doing already, because there are some of the changes we are trying to implement structurally from a build-up perspective and also the creative No 10 position where (Themba) Zwane operates from.”
* Meanwhile, SAFA's arbitration has ruled that Sundowns will keep the Nedbank Cup trophy despite including the suspended Tebogo Langerman on their team sheet in the final against Bloemfontein Celtic last season.
Sundowns were, however, slapped with a record R500 000 fine for their misdemeanour.
Langerman, who remained on the substitutes’ bench and played no part in the final, had his suspension extended earlier to two matches, with one being of a suspended nature.
The Bafana Bafana left-back returned to PSL action on Wednesday evening for the first time, coming on as a second-half substitute for Lyle Lakay against TTM at Loftus Versveld.