Michaelson Ntokozo Gumede

By Ntokozo Gumede

Journalist


What makes Sundowns players special, Mokwena reveals

"The number one requirement of being at Sundowns is that you put the team first," says Mokwena.


Football being a team sport, it involves players competing with each other for places in the team, but Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena says his players are wired differently.

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“The game belongs to the players and what helps us a lot is that we have very good human beings.

“The number one requirement of being at Sundowns is that you put the team first and sometimes that means investing in the interest of the team above your own.

“It makes us as coaches very happy that without giving any form of instruction, the players are able to give each other technical and tactical support,” said Mokwena.

“I speak to the bench a lot and sometimes I convey certain messages to the players because we don’t have enough time at half-time. So there are certain instructions that I want to give to Khuliso Mudau but I have to ask Thapelo Morena to speak to him when he walks with him into the tunnel.

“Sometimes when the message comes from a teammate and a brother, it sits a little softer on the heart than when it comes from the coaches,” he added.

Having beaten SuperSport United 2-0 in the MTN8 quarterfinals at the Tuks Stadium last weekend, Sundowns will go up against Matsatsantsa again today (Friday). This time the Tshwane rivals will battle in a DStv Premiership clash.

Mokwena reckons it would be tough to beat United again.

“They have an experienced coach and they are difficult to score against, they don’t give you a lot of big chances. They play very aggressive football and they have a good striker in Bradley Grobler.

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“They’ve got three strong centre backs in Thulani Hlatshwayo, Luke Fluers and Thatayaone Ditlhokwe. It is going to be a very difficult match for us,” said Mokwena.

Going up against the four-time league winning coach, Gavin Hunt, Mokwena believes that the veteran mentor might have an ace up his sleeves even though he is struggling with personnel after SuperSport sold most of their key players to Sundowns prior to his arrival.

“I like Gavin a lot, I’ve got a very soft spot for him. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and I can tell you that the person that you see on camera is not the person that you meet.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for him but he is an experienced campaigner who knows how to go around these things and he will have solutions for the problem he is facing.”