Sundowns players finally take a break, but it's hardly festive
JOHANNESBURG – The outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus has led to the suspension of most sporting activities in the country, and such is its dilemma that the unexpected break has been two-edged for Mamelodi Sundowns’ defender Anele Ngcongca.
There’s no South African football team that has been involved in domestic and continental football than Sundowns this season. In the last eight months, the Brazilians have played in five major competitions - the Caf Champions League, Absa Premiership, MTN8, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup.
Gruelling has been Sundowns’ schedule that the team missed Christmas Day with their families as they were in Algeria, where they were preparing to play USM Alger in the second leg of the group stage matches.
Granted the Brazilians enjoyed the fruits of their labour as they returned home with maximum points as they finished at the summit of Group C before crashing out in the quarter-finals following a 3-1 Aggregate loss to Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
But from there on, the Brazilians didn’t have time to lick their wounds.
They immediately turned their focus on the domestic season - hoping to close the gap on leaders Kaizer Chiefs, whom they trail by four points, and do well in the South African premier club knockout competition, the Nedbank Cup.
However, since the outrage of the deadly COVID-19 in the country, all domestic football activities have been suspended by Safa and PSL, while the country has also been placed under total lockdown as from yesterday, at least, until April 16.
“It’s been really difficult because we love football. This is our full-time job and we’ve got to put food on the table. But we have to respect the new laws and we have kids that we also need to protect,” Ngcongca said.
“But thank God, I am home with my family now. I am really quite happy to be with them because you know that at Sundowns we are a team that travels a lot. “So, we just have to use the time wisely and stay indoors.”
Granted this break will make up for lost time in family reunions and the regeneration of the team, but Ngcongca is sceptical this could also hinder their momentum in their pursue for the league title and Nedbank Cup when the season finally gets the green light. “The good part about the break is that we’ll get our energy break. But the sad part is that it might affect our momentum from the last game that we won against Highlands Park.”
The social distancing process will need all athletes to stay indoors, where they’ll be probably going through proposed training and nutrition programs from their medical team.
Ngcongca, knows the importance of adhering to those programs too well but says it could never be the same as testing yourself against your teammates at training. “You need your teammates to push you. The motivation that they give you at training is not the same that you’ll get at home.
But I am close friends with Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi so we get to share ideas now and again,” the Capetonian footballer explained.@Mihlalibaleka