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Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mokwena paints grim fitness picture in Masandawana camp

13:51 GMT+4 31/12/2022
Peter Shalulile, Mamelodi Sundowns, September 2022
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena says they were forced to field players who were not fully fit against Orlando Pirates.
  • Downs are facing fitness issues
  • But they still went on to beat Pirates
  • Mokwena unhappy with the situation

WHAT HAPPENED? The Brazilians beat Pirates 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld as they returned to competitive action following the Fifa World Cup break. Earlier in the week, Mokwena had stated Peter Shalulile was participating in full training. But the Namibian was a surprise absentee and the coach said, after the Pirates match, his striker was not ready to play.

Shalulile was replaced by Abubeker Nasir who was spearheading Masandawana's attack on his return from a long injury layoff. But the Ethiopian was stretchered off the pitch following a collision with Pirates goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane on the brink of half-time.

Cassius Mailula stepped in for Nasir and Mokwena says they were forced to introduce the 21-year-old who was not ready to play. The Masandawana coach also says they threw on Haashim Domingo who is not yet fully fit either.

WHAT MOKWENA SAID: “No, just match readiness. [Mailula] still not ready and it’s just a pity that his introduction was fastened because of Nasir’s injury, which is a little bit unfortunate,” said Mokwena as per iDiski Times.

“That’s probably the sourest taste [of the Pirates match]. It’s sad that last time it was Haashim Domingo against Pirates, today it was Nasir.

“It’s sad that these types of games always have to end with these types of situations. Nasir is loved by his teammates and he’s such a humble human being. And you see with his movements he’s very selfless, he’s trying to create things for his teammates, so I’m his teammates also have…

“I could see at half-time when he was on a stretcher and he was being attended to by the paramedics, all the players came to sit down, they all walked past Nasir and touched him, encouraged him. That shows you because of the type of human being he is.

“Cassius is not ready yet, for sure Peter is not ready yet, Haashim is not ready, so we’re in that space, but good for Cassius to get some minutes also.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sundowns have been battling injuries to key players this season although the depth in their squad means they have coped well. Even when most players were expected to have recovered during the World Cup break, they still returned depleted.

Just before kickoff against Pirates, Masandawana announced the unavailability of Rivaldo Coetzee, Lebohang Maboe, Erwin Saavedra and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. Terrence Mashego and Abdel Boutouil had already been said to be out for the next two months.

STORY IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR SUNDOWNS? The Brazilians will be at home again in their next match as they now prepare to host Swallows FC on Tuesday, looking for an eighth straight league victory.

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