Sport / Phakaaathi / Local Soccer

Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
2 minute read
15 Oct 2021
1:22 pm

Downs’ master plan in striking a balance ahead of Champions League opener

Ntokozo Gumede

'We have a team behind the scenes that has got so much experience on the African continent', said head coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns will kickoff their Caf Champions League duties against Maniema Union in Congo on Sunday Picture: (Gavin Barker/BackpagePix)

For a while now, the talk has been about Mamelodi Sundowns entering the Caf Champions League stage, which they will do on Sunday against Democratic Republic of Congo side Maniema Union, but Downs coaches have been muting their ears around those talks, always going for the diplomatic, “we are taking it each game at a time”.

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Rhulani Mokwena, however, admits that they have been, all along, keeping one eye on their Champions League opponents while handling business in the DStv Premiership and the MTN8.

“We have a team behind the scenes that has got so much experience on the African continent with regards to these preparations to make sure that everything is planned to the tit without missing any small minute detail because at this stage everything is important and it all reflects within the performance of the team and it influences the results so we can’t run away from the fact that we’ve always had one eye on it,” said Mokwena.

“But we took it game by game because before that we had different fixtures. We are in that space where we want to do well in the Champions League and be progressive and that means we have to be a step ahead of everybody else and that is where we are,” he added.  

Sundowns have a couple of players who are in the causality ward, such as Ricardo Nasicemento and Lebohang Maboe, who have been influential in Masandawana’s exploits in the DStv Premiership and the Champions League. Downs do not have to panic now about registering them in the continental spectacle as there will be a new window period to register a new squad ahead of the group stages set to kick-off in February.

However, The Brazilians are excited about the return of defender Mosa Lebusa, who has missed the last two games. His coach, Manqoba Mngqithi says the defender has been fit for a while but they have been monitoring his progress back to full fitness, that is why the club were reluctant to release him to the national team.  

“Mosa is back and he is training very well and he could have been in the Bafana Bafana squad because he was back at the time already. We know he is going to help us in the next coming matches, he is looking good and he has not lost anything physically,” said Mngqithi.