Mvala, Mudau absence ‘not by choice’ for Mamelodi Sundowns, says Mokwena

Lebohang Maboe, who also provided two assists, scores for Mamelodi Sundowns against La Masia on Tuesday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Lebohang Maboe, who also provided two assists, scores for Mamelodi Sundowns against La Masia on Tuesday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Feb 22, 2024


Having showcased their strength in depth in hammering first- division outfit La Masia 6-1 in the Nedbank Cup, Mamelodi Sundowns now have to prove they are able to live without their key players on the continent.

The Brazilians travelled to Mauritania yesterday for their CAF Champions League group clash against FC Nouadhibou on Saturday (6pm kick-off, SA time) sans two crucial figures in right back Khuliso Mudau and centre back Mthobi Mvala.

Coach Rulani Mokwena was also crossing fingers that the talismanic skipper and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams would have fully recovered from a shoulder injury sustained while on Bafana Bafana duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Also slightly doubtful is the influential veteran midfielder Themba Zwane who, according to Mokwena, has an injury concern too.

Speaking during the post-match media conference at the Dobsonville Stadium after his second-string team had made light work of sending La Masia packing in the country’s premier knockout competition, Mokwena dismissed the suggestion that he was resting his key players who had also played a major role in Bafana’s bronze-medal showing in Ivory Coast.

“Some of it (keeping the players out of the starting line-up) is not even by choice,” he responded to a question about the unusual line-up in the club’s two matches since the return to domestic action after the Afcon.

“Mthobi is out, and probably out for six to eight weeks. Sailor (Mudau) is also out, and he will be out for about six to eight weeks also. And you know when he got injured, he still played (for Bafana), which disappoints me a little bit.

“Ronza (Williams) is struggling with a shoulder injury, so we rested him and gave him some time.

“Mshishi (Zwane) is still struggling with a niggle. So, it’s not about the rest, but some have returned with very serious injuries.”

He admits, though, that such situations are par for the course in the competitive environment of professional football.

“It is what it is, and we have to try and use the rest of the squad. And you saw (against La Masia) and against (Orlando) Pirates (at the weekend) that they have the quality to compete and help the team, and that is the responsibility they all have.”

Players such as Gaston Sirino, who scored a hat-trick against La Masia, and Lebohang Maboe, who scored and provided two assists, raised their hands to be considered for a place in the regular starting line-up.

It would be interesting to see if Mokwena uses them at the weekend for a match they should win to secure passage to the knockout stage of the Champions League.

The African Football League (AFL) champions should have no problem getting out of the group phase as they are sitting pretty in second spot, although they have the same number of points (seven) as log leaders TP Mazembe.

They convincingly beat the Mauritania outfit 3-0 on Matchday 1 at Loftus Versfeld ,and tough as conditions at the Stade de la Capitale in Nouakchott are sure to be, Masandawana should prove too strong even without their regulars.

Granted, La Masia are no continental competitors, but such was the convincing performance by Sundowns in dispatching them that Mokwena can use the same line-up at the weekend and still beat Nouadhibou.