Rulani Mokwena: ‘Chiefs are still a very big club and deserve a lot of respect’

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena at a training session at Chloorkop in Johannesburg on April 8, 2021.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena at a training session at Chloorkop in Johannesburg on April 8, 2021.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has said that they will not underestimate Kaizer Chiefs despite the fact that Amakhosi are stuttering in the bottom half of the DStv Premiership.

The Brazilians host Amakhosi in their hugely-anticipated league match on Sunday at Loftus looking to extend their advantage at the summit over second-placed Golden Arrows and third-placed AmaZulu.

While Sundowns are enjoying a six-point lead at the top of the log over Arrows and AmaZulu with two games in hand, Chiefs are stuck in 11th spot with 25 points from their 22 matches.

“Chiefs are still a very big club and they deserve a lot of respect,” said Mokwena.

“The fixture between Sundowns and Chiefs is always one that is highly anticipated and it also brings a lot of attention because of the magnitude of both clubs. The reality is that you have to be sober-minded when you do your analysis and not derive anything from their log position and their unfortunate result against Cape Town City.

“They still have very good players, players with huge pedigree and experience like Khama Billiat, Samir Nurković, Lebogang Manyama, and some youngsters like Njabulo Blom who can play with Kearyn Baccus, and there is Nkosingiphile Ngcobo who is doing exceptionally well.

“They are a good team with a very good coach in Gavin Hunt who is experienced and knows what he is doing. He needs a little bit of time and he is someone who I have great admiration and huge respect for.”

Mokwena indicated that Downs’ rehabilitation and medical team has worked wonders behind the scenes by clearing their sick bay with a near clean bill of health for the game.

“We have almost a clean bill of health. They only thing now is fast-tracking the return to play process, which is part of the protocols for players to be available for the match-day squad.

“Apart from Kermit Erasmus and Soumahoro Bangaly being on that return to play space, and they have been training well, we almost have everybody fit and ready for the Chiefs match.

“We need everybody and the most important thing is that we can’t go through this season without rotating the squad and you can’t do any rotations without everybody available. We are happy that we have everybody available and at the moment the key word is rotation, rotation, and rotation.

“We have to, and not just from a physical perspective because the last 16 days for us have been extremely taxing, and part of that is the psychological space where we have to make sure that we get the players ready to play every match at the highest possible level and intensity.”

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