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Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi: George Maluleka is going nowhere

Manqoba Mngqithi says George Maluleka is in the team's plans.
Manqoba Mngqithi says George Maluleka is in the team's plans.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has moved swiftly to dismiss growing claims that the Pretoria club intends to dump former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Maluleka in the coming days before he's kicked a ball in anger in his new employer's colours.

Mngqithi told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE they have observed the rumours linking Maluleka with an exit to Cape Town City on a loan deal and insisted that contrary to the claims‚ the industrious midfielder remains part of Sundowns' plans going into the new 2020-21 Premiership season.

“Where did you get this thing from‚” Mngqithi asked when approached for comment by TimesLIVE.

“George is not going anywhere.

"One thing I can tell you in advance is that George is in our plans.

“George is one of the players that we’re still assessing and we’re happy with what we see and we believe that he can go from strength to strength.

“We know what he’s capable of and we don’t have any issues‚ so maybe we [can] kill that [rumour] completely.

“There’s just no issue with George and he knows that he’s in our plans. He’s working very hard and has shed a lot of weight and he’s looking very sharp.”

Sundowns officially announced Maluleka's signing in July after he was released by Chiefs.

The midfielder had signed a pre-contract with the Brazilians early in the year.

Rumours of his impending exit from Chloorkop started circulating early last week but Mngqithi‚ who was recently appointed as co-coach with Rulani Mokwena‚ insisted that they are baseless.

While Mngqithi was very clear on Maluleka’s future‚ he could not say the same about the fate the other 11 new players that Sundowns have signed ahead of the new season.

The list of newcomers includes strikers Kermit Erasmus‚ Lesedi Kapinga‚ Gift Motupa and Peter Shalulile‚ goalkeepers Ricardo Goss and Jody February‚ midfielders Mothobi Mvala‚ Grant Margeman‚ Hashim Domingo‚ Aubrey Modiba and Luvuyo Phewa.

“I wouldn’t confirm that all of them will stay‚” said Mngqithi.

“We still have to assess others and we’ve not had as much time. But we’ll not be selfish if we don’t think the player is going to play.

“We’ll be honest and upfront and try to make it possible that those players get the opportunity somewhere else.

“But we don’t want to be irrational‚ be unfair to other people’s kids‚ not give them a fair look in and observation‚ and see what they have.

“We might also have constrains on numbers that we have to deal with.

“Over the years we’ve always been trying to make sure that we don’t have a very big squad that’s got a lot of disgruntled people that are not happy when things are not going their way.

“Honestly speaking‚ for me it’s always proper to do things the right way instead of keeping someone only because you have the power.

“We’ll give these boys a chance and see exactly whether we think one‚ two or three of them are going to help us this season.

“And if we feel that we might not get the benefit‚ it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. We can still maybe bring the player back maybe next season or whenever the case might be.

“But as it is now‚ one cannot commit and say player so or so is going to be in our plans. It’s not possible.”

Champions Sundowns begin the defence of a league title they have won three times in a row with a blockbuster opener against Chiefs at FNB Stadium next Saturday.

But that mouthwatering clash will be preceded by Sunday evening's MTN8 quarterfinal clash against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.