Mokwena explains why rotation often works against Sundowns
'I'm not so sure whether rotation is the right thing at big clubs,' said the Sundowns head coach.
Rulani Mokwena was happy his changed side kept up the Sundowns standards on Sunday. Picture: Backpagepix.
The taxing nature of Mamelodi Sundowns’ hectic schedule forced Rulani Mokwena into rotating his team for the CAF Champions League group stage opener against FC Nouadhibou on Sunday.
The Mauritanian outfit were still not a match for the Brazilians, who could afford to keep inspirational captain Themba Zwane on the bench, as well as reigning PSL Footballer of the Season Teboho Mokoena.
Sundowns will now turn their attention to the DStv Premiership with a clash against SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby on Wednesday night followed by a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a titanic Champions League battle against TP Mazembe three days later.
“I spent the majority of the off season at Chloorkop and I went through all our games,” Mokwena revealed.
“There are three things I spoke to the team about and one of them was rotation. I’m not so sure whether rotation is the right thing at big clubs because of cohesion, chemistry and fluidity. And also last season when we dropped points when we dropped points when we rotated a lot.
“I spoke to the players that if we have a squad of 36 players then all 36 must contribute. Last season we had 36 players and we used only 35 and only one didn’t get game time.
“The reality is that if we are going to have a squad like this, then people have to play because they are contributing to the success of the team and it’s not where we are just handing our appearances because we’re not in a space of charity.
“Football is a game that is based on meritocracy. You have to earn the right to play so it’s a very difficult situation that we find ourselves in. So I’m happy that when we find ourselves in situations like these, we don’t drop the standard.”
Mokwena is under no illusion about the tough week that lies ahead as they juggle between their domestic commitments and the champions league.
“The only way you can do this is by preparing well and working hard to make sure that the team improves,” he said about the pressure of playing across different competitions.
“We pay attention to every small detail and we go game by game and recover. The players have to rest because it’s not easy. We tried our best to rest Mshishi (Themba Zwane) even though he was on the bench in case we needed him, and we rested Teboho Mokoena.
“We go for SuperSport United (next). It’s going to be a very difficult game against a very difficult side but first thing’s first, it’s about recovery and focusing on the next one.”