Rulani to rotate the squad ahead of league, CAF clashes

Gruelling Downs programme taking toll on players

Neville Khoza Journalist
Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns in action with Tshepang Makara of AmaTuks in the Nedbank Cup on Friday.
Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns in action with Tshepang Makara of AmaTuks in the Nedbank Cup on Friday.
Image: Gallo Images

With Mamelodi Sundowns' relentless programme set to continue when they visit Moroka Swallows in the DStv Premiership tonight before leaving for their CAF Champions League semifinal first-leg clash against Esperance on Saturday, coach Rulani Mokwena will again have to rotate his squad to keep his key players fresh.

Sundowns have been facing a gruelling schedule as they are participating in all fronts – the Nedbank Cup, the league and the CAF Champions League. They played matches against Richards Bay, Young Africans, Cape Town Spurs and the University of Pretoria in the last two weeks.

Mokwena admitted that this is taking its toll on the players and that even though he wants them to spend time together on the pitch, sometimes it’s impossible.

“This team needs to spend time on the pitch together. We have to build chemistry, fluidity, cohesion and the only way you do that is on the pitch,” Mokwena said.

“I want them to play more together. I’m not sure what we will do on Monday [today]. We have to take it one day at a time. At the moment, they must be exhausted because I’m exhausted.

“The most important thing now is recovery, regeneration. Before the game, we spend 10 minutes on the pitch. The rest of the time they were in the massage room and Ice Bath.

“We have to give a lot of compliments to my staff, the people behind the scenes who are working so hard to keep the players at a good level. Against AmaTuks, we ran and I like this feeling where if I look at their eyes, they want more and they want to push.”

A win for Sundowns will see them increase their lead to 55 points and would lead second-place Stellenbosch by 16 with a game in hand.

“If you think of the Cape Town Spurs game, it reminds me of the Stellenbosch game last season where we lost and the other one we drew at the same pitch where we drew 1-1 with the penalty that we conceded late in the game,” he said.

“These types of games last season, we will lose or draw, we will just give up. Now we dig deep, we support each other and even though we make it difficult, I’m very proud of the players, bench and the team.

“Now we have to recover and prepare for this game against a very good team on a very difficult pitch. Fortunately, I watched a lot of Swallows matches this season and I know what to expect.”


Today: Swallows v Sundowns, Dobsonville (7.30pm)

Wednesday: SuperSport v Polokwane, Lucas Moripe (7.30pm); Sekhukhune v Stellenbosch, Peter Mokaba (7.30pm)

Saturday: Arrows v Royal, Mpumalanga (3pm); Sekhukhune v Spurs, Peter Mokaba (5pm); Pirates v AmaZulu, Orlando (5.30pm); SuperSport v Chippa, Lucas Moripe (8pm)

Sunday: Bay v Chiefs, King Zwelithini (3pm); Polokwane v CPT City, Old Peter Mokaba (3pm); Galaxy v Stellenbosch, Mbombela (5.30pm)

CAF Champions League semifinal

Saturday; Esperance v Sundowns, Stade Olympique (9pm)

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