Sport / Phakaaathi / Local Soccer

Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
2 minute read
7 Oct 2021
10:38 am

The secret behind Sundowns’ blazing new recruits

Ntokozo Gumede

'Kudos to the entire group for the new players to integrate so quickly,' said Downs head coach Rulani Mokwena

Brought in at the start of the season, Mamelodi Sundowns' new recruits have fitted into the puzzle with ease. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Most of the time when players join Mamelodi Sundowns, they are subjected to a lengthy adaptation process and where they are integrated to the team on a gradual basis, seemingly taking some time before they can become regulars in the team.

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However, that has not been the case for new recruits Grant Kekana, Divine Lunga, Thabiso Kutumela, Neo Maema and Pavol Safranko. These five players have hit the ground running at Chloorkop, having made a combined 31 appearances and have all scored their maiden goals for the club already. The Brazilians’ co-head coach, Rulani Mokwena explains how his new players have all fitted in like gloves.

“It is kudos to the entire group for the new players to integrate so quickly. We have to look at the environment that has been created by the players we have, welcoming them with warm hands and making sure they are integrated into the group as quickly as possible and they feel comfortable and they are able to give their best for the team,” said Mokwena.

While the mentor credits much of the adaptation process to the rest of the players at Chloorkop, Mokwena sauys Kekana and the likes need to give themselves a pat on the back for easing into the very competitive Masandawana side.

“They have also worked hard to create this bondage and element of trust, which is very important. The number one responsibility for any new player in any team is to make sure that they create trust with their teammates and they have done that through commitment and dedication. We know why we recruited them and why we worked so hard to get them into the team.”

Mokwena adds: “All of them offer different things. Grant gives us this versatility to be able to cover right-fullback and centre-half. Pavol gives us a different dimension where we know we can link-up now with a focal point.

“Neo and Kutumela give us very similar elements that we felt we didn’t have last season, which is the pressure around the ball and the ability to dribble and manipulate very tight spaces. Divine is also doing well at left-back and we are patient with the team because we are still very far from hitting top gear. We have a lot of work to do and we have to focus on making sure that we have to improve.”