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Mokwena in harmony with‘Spanish Guitar’

Downs coach asks for patience on new right-back Mdunyelwa

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Matias Esquivel of Sundowns celebrates his goal during the Nedbank Cup last 32 against La Masia.
Matias Esquivel of Sundowns celebrates his goal during the Nedbank Cup last 32 against La Masia.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

As much as the combination of his South American exports give him joy – labelling them “the Spanish guitar” – Mamelodi Sundowns tactician Rulani Mokwena has stressed they must always put the team first.

Mokwena started four South American players in the first round of the Nedbank Cup at Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday. Marcelo Allende (Chile), Gaston Sirino (Uruguay), Junior Mendieta and newcomer Matías Esquivel (both Argentina) played when Sundowns thumped Motsepe Foundation Championship outfit La Masia and won 6-1.

“I call it [the combination of his South American players] the Spanish Guitar, but the guitar has to always play to the tune of the team,” Mokwena said after the game, where Sirino bagged a hat-trick while Esquivel, Terrence Mashego and Lebohang Maboe also netted.

“There’s no individuals or groups within the team ... they are part of the Sundowns group. They were all good today, good attitude, good mentality. It’s just a pity that we had to take Mendieta off at halftime because you could see they [La Masia players] were trying to even provoke him a little bit.”

The coach also asked for patience for new right-back Zuko Mdunyelwa, who made his debut on Tuesday, playing the entire game.

Mdunyelwa joined from Chippa United a few weeks ago. Mokwena suggested Mdunyelwa has the potential to emulate Khuliso Mudau.

“You’ve got to be patient because it was the same with Sailor [Mudau]. When Sailor arrived, there were also a lot of questions [like] will he play for Sundowns? Will he be at a level [to play for Sundowns]? He was a bit shaky at the beginning, but look at where he is today. So Zuko has got a lot of potential and that’s what we brought him here for, his potential and we will be patient,” Mokwena stated.

“But he did well today. The right-back role at Sundowns is a little bit different at the moment, so he has to play a little bit different to how he played at Chippa, but we’ve got a lot of time for him. He’s younger than Sailor by maybe four years, if not three [he's 24, while Mudau is 28], so we just have to be patient with him.”

Sundowns face Mauritanian champions Nouadhibou in the CAF Champions Group A penultimate game in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on Saturday (6pm SA time).


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