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Mokwena: Mvala has shown he 'has the capacity to play for Mamelodi Sundowns'

01 January 2021 - 12:01 By Marc Strydom
Rulani Mokwena, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, during the DStv Premiership match against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on October 24, 2020.
Rulani Mokwena, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, during the DStv Premiership match against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on October 24, 2020.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix/Gallo Images

New signing Mothobi Mvala's two goals in two games have seen the burly Bafana Bafana attacker put up his hand and show that he is Mamelodi Sundowns material‚ Downs co-coach Rulani Mokwena has said.

As Downs meet Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld in Saturday's cracking return from the Christmas break for the DStv Premiership‚ Mokwena moved to allay some supporters' fears that Sundowns' coaching holy trinity have been unnecessarily tampering with the Brazilians' starting XIs.

He suggested that Covid-19 precautions have been the reason for some chopping and changing for the Premiership defending champions and leaders.

Mokwena said with the depth in Sundowns' star-studded squad‚ including a healthy batch of off-season signings‚ such changes have not given him or his co-coaches‚ Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela‚ grey hairs. The ex-Pirates coach singled out Mvala‚ signed from now-defunct Highlands Park‚ as having stepped up with impressive performances‚ among a few others too.

“The squad status with regards to the unavailability of certain players hasn't really changed. We are still struggling with certain players with regards to injuries and many other medical conditions‚” Mokwena said.

“That's because we've got to be extra careful and extremely sensitive‚ because we are still in the middle of a pandemic‚ and any signs of any other potentially related issues are taken very seriously. With the advice of our doctors we try to adhere to the caution and the red flags raised.

“It is also to allay the fears and concerns of certain amaSandawana [Sundowns' fans] who think that maybe we are tampering too much with the squad. Of course it may look like it‚ but in certain moments our hands are really forced into playing certain cards.

“Be that as it may we believe fully in our squad and the absence of some of the players gives opportunities to some of the other players. And we have seen how players like Mothobi Mvala have come up.

“Mothobi has now scored two goals in two games and has put up his hand in saying‚ 'I have the capacity of playing for Mamelodi Sundowns'. And he has shown that.

“So at times another man's poison becomes another man's meat. And we just continue to make sure that we put the best XI on the field‚ and it will be the same with Orlando Pirates.

“Yes‚ we have missed Themba Zwane‚ Gaston Sirino‚ Haashim Domingo and‚ in the last match [Sundowns' 2-0 Caf Champions League first round‚ away leg win against Botswana's Jwaneng Galaxy]‚ Kermit Erasmus.

“But you have seen Mothobi Mvala has stepped up‚ we have welcomed Soumahoro Bangaly back‚ Brian Onyango has now started to play and play a role in the team‚ Aubrey Modiba came back in Botswana.

“So we are quietly going about our business. And no moaning‚ no fussing. We continue to fight for the next three points.”

Last season's treble winners Sundowns have barely stumbled from the departure after the eight most successful years by any team in the PSL era of head coach Pitso Mosimane to join Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the Covid-19-abbreviated off-season‚ as their new brains trust trio have engineered a smooth transition.

In the league‚ Downs have five wins and three draws from eight matches to lead on goal difference from promoted revelations Swallows FC.

Pirates — even with coach Josef Zinnbauer suffering personal trauma as his son‚ Fabio‚ has fought for his life in Germany after a horror car crash — have finally put behind them their six-year trophy drought by beating Bloemfontein Celtic in the MTN8 final.

Now fellow title contenders Bucs — bolstered by plenty of strong signings of their own — can focus on improving on their fifth place in the Premiership (three wins and four draws from seven matches).