Thela Ngobeni, who played for Free State Stars last season while on loan from Sundowns, is said to be returning to the Mamelodi club. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns have decided who will fill the void left by Wayne Sandilands in the goalkeeping department.

Sandilands has left Sundowns and joined Orlando Pirates on a year deal. And a source close to Independent Media has revealed that Thela Ngobeni is staying with Sundowns this season.

The former Kaizer Chiefs and National Under-23 goalminder was on loan to Free State Stars last season.

“Sundowns are bringing back Ngobeni. They were worried about Wayne’s departure because that left them with two goalkeepers in the Caf Champions League. They have since taken the decision that Ngobeni will be registered,” the source revealed.

Denis Onyango is Sundowns' number one goalkeeper and Kennedy Mweene is the deputy for the best player based in South Africa.

Sundowns prevailed in the quarter-final stages of the Champions League after finishing as runners-up in their group.

They will now be facing Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca home and away.

"The first leg is in South Africa on September 8 and the return leg will be played in Morocco a week later on September 15.

Sundowns are the defending champions in the competition, but club spokesperson Thulani Thuswa said he is in the dark as to who will be registered in the place of Sandilands.

“No one has indicated to me that Ngobeni will be registered in Caf. I’m still waiting from the technical team to indicate to me as to who will be registered as the third keeper. At the moment I’m in dark,” Thuswa lamented.

A couple of seasons ago Pirates found themselves in some bother when they were competing in the Caf Confederation Cup. They had two keepers left after Senzo Meyiwa's tragic death. But on top of that Brighton Mhlongo got injured in a league game against SuperSport United and Pirates were left with just one keeper.

Filipe Ovono was Pirates' main man between the sticks, and the Bucs technical team were compelled to train up a few hopefuls capable of deputising should anything happen to Ovono.

It seems like Sundowns have sensed similar danger and made the right decision with Ngobeni.

Meanwhile there’s been a lot of murmurs regarding star player Khama Billiat's future at Sundowns. He has been heavily linked with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassri.

“Yes, there is interest in Khama but we must remember that an interest is not an offer. Khama is one of our key players. He loves Sundowns and we also love him but we are also open to offers.

"If the offer is right we will sit down and have a look at it,” Thuswa elaborated.

Billiat's contract has expired and he is yet to sign a new deal.

“But Khama is not refusing to sign a new deal. We must remember that Sundowns haven’t had time (to talk to him). Our schedule has been very tight. We were involved in three competitions in the last few months.

"Now that we have more time on our hands I believe we will be able to discuss Khama’ s future,” Thuswa explained.

The Star

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