Sundowns braced to win the DStv Premiership title for a seventh consecutive time

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena during a DStv Premiership game against Stellenbosch FC at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena during a DStv Premiership game against Stellenbosch FC at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 3, 2023

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Mamelodi Sundowns are braced to win the DStv Premiership title for the seventh consecutive time when the new season kicks off on Friday against Sekhukhune United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane (7.30pm).

The Tshwane giants Sundowns have a score to settle with the Limpopo-based club, who surprisingly held them to a draw at the same venue last season.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena is feeling bullish about the season ahead after the team played a few pre-season games in Europe after an early season training camp at the Royal Marang Hotel on the outskirts of Rustenburg.

After an unbeaten run in Europe, Mokwena is happy that the team is ready for the new season.

“We have worked on quite a few things from the schemes we want to see both in and out of possession and our rest defence scheme because we have changed the structure,” said Mokwena.

“We have worked very hard on our set pieces and the coaches have been really good. Coach Michael (Loftman), coach Wendell (Robinson) and coach Manqoba (Mngqithi) have been working hard in that space.”

Downs goalkeeper Robinson emphasised the significance of the pre-season wins. He said that the continuous pressure that they applied on their opponents yielded positive results.

“Last season maybe we didn’t score enough goals and we also conceded a lot of goals out of mistakes so that’s what we are trying to improve," said Robinson.

"We are trying to improve our goal-scoring rate and also to eliminate the mistakes. We’ve scored seven goals; in the first game we conceded two goals from the mistakes but it’s good to see the application of the boys now trying to eradicate and erase the mistakes in the game.

"The key takeaway for me is this thing we worked on, we were able to use it in the game and executed well.”

Mokwena is pleased by the way the newcomers Lesiba Nku, Junior Mendieta, Lucas Ribeiro Costa and Thapelo Maseko have fitted into the squad.

He is also pleased with the return of players like Sammy Seabi, Jody February and Divine Lunga who spent time on loan spells at other clubs.

"The season looks extremely competitive, of course, not only because of the improvement of the teams for sure in the league, you see that a lot of our rivals have strengthened their squads, they've improved their teams with some very good players," said Mokwena.

"Of course, we've done the same. We've improved the squad with players like Lucas Ribiero, Lesiba Nku. These are really players that give us different options from a formation perspective and positional perspective.

"We also have the return of some of the players that were out on loan like Devine, Sammy Seabi and Jody, they are part of the squad for this season," he told the club's media department.

"They return from difficult injuries like Lebo Maboe and Rivaldo Coetzee. It also feels like these are new players that can assist us in the season. Maseko comes in that space for sure.

"The qualities that will allow us to adapt certain structures and schemes and give certain qualities."

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport