Mngqithi says Lebusa back for Sundowns, should not have been released from Bafana

15 October 2021 - 13:17
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says Mosa Lebusa should have been allowed to remain in the Bafana Bafana squad for the back-to-back matches against Ethiopia.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says Mosa Lebusa should have been allowed to remain in the Bafana Bafana squad for the back-to-back matches against Ethiopia.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Mamelodi Sundowns got a boost ahead of their Caf Champions League match in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday after it was revealed key defender Mosa Lebusa is fit to travel with the team.

Lebusa missed Sundowns' last match before the national team assembled for back-to-back 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia after he was declared “unfit” upon arrival in camp and was subsequently released from the squad.

Bafana Bafana team doctor Tshepo Molobi said Lebusa arrived in camp on Sunday carrying a right quad strain which the player hoped would heal prior to reporting for national duty.

Molobi said the team decided not to risk further injury and released the left-footed centre-back from camp.

But Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi said Lebusa has been training all week and is part of the travelling to team to face AS Maniema Union as the Caf Champions League moves to the second preliminary round stages before the group stages.

The 2016 champions face a daunting trip to the central African country for a confrontation with Union in the first-leg match to be played on Sunday in Kindu.

“Mosa is back and is training very well,” said Mngqithi after he and Sundowns cleaned up at the Premier Soccer League's (PSL) monthly awards on Wednesday‚ winning the coach and player prizes for August and September.

“Mosa could have even been in the Bafana squad had he been given a chance to be in camp.

“We are confident he is going to help us in the coming matches because he is looking good physically and has not lost anything.

“We are happy to have him back.”

Sundowns will host the Congolese side in Tshwane when the second-leg matches take place on the weekend of October 22 to 24, with the aggregate winners qualifying for the lucrative group stages, while aggregate losers will move to the Caf Confederation Cup in the additional second preliminary round.

Sundowns had four key players on international duty with Rushine de Reuck and Mothobi Mvala representing Bafana while red-hot striker Peter Shalulile was on national duty with Namibia.

Mngqithi’s co-coach Rulani Mokwena said Sundowns will find a way to ensure their squad, especially those coming from hectic travelling with their national teams, is refreshed for the crucial Champions League match away from home.

“The good thing is that the club consists of people who have been in this space [Champions League] for quite some time,” said Mokwena.

“The reality is that it is a difficult challenge of merging two very tough clubs and an international programme. When you are populated with more international stars  it becomes even more difficult.

“But Sundowns has always had international players leaving on any international break to represent their respective countries and therefore Sundowns has the experience.”

While Lebusa returns Sundowns will have to do without combative midfielder Mothobi Mvala, who seemed to have returned from Bafana carrying an injury.

Mokwena said it is not the first time their players return from Bafana carrying knocks.

“ Unfortunately again we get Mothobi coming back from Bafana with a muscular strain. The last time it was Thapelo.

“We have to look at that space because it puts us in a difficult position. The plan is to always get the players back injury-free.”