Michaelson Ntokozo Gumede

By Ntokozo Gumede


Give my players more credit, pleads Sundowns coach Mokwena

"We don't praise these Sundowns players enough," says Mokwena.

Ordinarily, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are always expected to be in contention for the DStv Premiership title, but Mamelodi Sundowns have been dominating local football over the past decade.

ALSO READ: Mailula, Grobler, Shalulile, Caleb: who will score the most goals?

While expectation is always high from the Soweto giants’ supporters, Sundowns head coach, Rulani Mokwena says his players deserve a lot of praise for going far and beyond what Masandawana supporters expect from them.

“The Premier Soccer League (DStv Premiership) is a very difficult league and we have to give recognition to the Sundowns players. It is not easy to be in a big team and not be in the position that Sundowns are in. Some of the big teams are not at that level,” says Mokwena.

“We don’t praise these Sundowns players enough and we have to because of the level of consistency that they put in week in and week out, the quality that they show on the pitch in decision making, for me it makes me honoured and makes me feel overwhelmed to be a coach.

“We have an honest group of players with extreme quality and they are able to still go on every single day and have the right mental aptitude to play for this team. You won’t play for us if you don’t run and don’t show hunger in your game. It becomes very difficult . We don’t win games because of luck but there is a lot of hard work that goes into this team,” he added.

The defending champions have opened up a big gap between themselves and the kings of Soweto, as they are 16 points clear of Amakhosi and 21 ahead of the Buccaneers.

Achieving this feat without the influential Peter Shalile — who returned to action earlier this week — makes the table-toppers even more remarkable, Mokwena reckons.

“Peter is a reflection of a good footballer and good human being. I feel that we are fortunate to be in this space of working with good footballers. Peter’s return speaks to him returning to a very good group of players and he comes in to improve the level of the team and the competition,” said Mokwena.

ALSO READ: Maritzburg announce new signings including Pirates’ Peprah

He added: “We have scored more goals than anybody else without the top goal scorer and Footballer of the Season and that tells you a lot about this group of players that we have.

“We are not a team that focuses on individuals, we love Peter and the supporters love him because exemplifies the profile of footballer that we want to represent Sundowns with regards to the commitment, the bravery and application on the pitch.”