Michaelson Ntokozo Gumede

By Ntokozo Gumede


Mabena has not arrived yet, insists Mokwena

'Sometimes we overhype players after seeing one good game,' says Mokwena.

South Africa’s latest sensation in the DStv Premiership is none other than Mamelodi Sundowns youngster Siyabonga Mabena.

Sundowns’ Mabena has hardly put a foot wrong and is unlikely to disappoint if he continues in his great vein of form. He is a key player in Masandawana’s DStv Diski Challenge side and at 16 years old, now he has been promoted to the first team where he has put in a couple of impressive performances.

LISTEN: Will anyone ever stop Mamelodi Sundowns?

But his head coach, Rulani Mokwena does not take kindly to the attention given to the youngster as he cautions against what he calls “the curse of the rising star”.

“Sometimes we overhype players after seeing one good game. How many years has Themba Zwane been doing this? Peter Shalulile has had a marvelous level of consistency for the past five years for Highlands Park and Sundowns,” said Mokwena.

“But I am being asked about Mabena, we should not be talking about Mabena, he has not done enough. We must focus on the people who have been consistent for many years because we kill this talent by overhyping them because then they think they have arrived, and then what happens?” he added.

In the same breath, Mokwena likened Mabena to the late Sundowns and Orlando Pirates star Gift Leremi, who was a dynamic attacking midfielder and is regarded as one of the best talents that Mzansi football has ever seen.

“Mabena has the ability to move left and right with speed and with a dynamic change of direction. It is a small detail and not a lot of players have that. He made two beautiful assists in the DDC. He has a bright future but we have to be careful and not make too much noise. I’ve said the same thing about Cassius (Mailula) and I had to manage him when he came from Bafana Bafana.

“The youngsters need a little bit of protection, we are not a country that is known to produce world class talent at a young age and there must be a reason for that. Our players only reach a very good level of performance a little bit later but football nations produce 16-year-olds who are ready to perform at a high level. Why don’t we do that?” Mokwena added.

If you haven’t seen Mabena in action yet, click here to watch him score five goals and provide a few assists in national team colours.