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Mamelodi Sundowns

Mokwena reveals Mamelodi Sundowns' plan to cope without injured duo Sirino and Saavedra

12:59 AM MYT 21/02/2022
Rhulani Mokwena Mamelodi Sundowns December 2021
The 35-year-old tactician also commented on Peter Shalulile's poor form with Masandawana winless in their last two matches

Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rhulani Mokwena is confident that the team can cope without their South American stars Gaston Sirino and Erwin Saavedra.

Saveedra joined Uruguayan playmaker Sirino on Masandawana's injury list after the Bolivia international picked up a knock during the team's 0-0 draw with Sudan's Al Merrikh in the Caf Champions League match on Friday.

Mokwena was asked how they will be able to cope with the two-attack minded players with their star striker Peter Shalulile currently enduring a four-match goal drought across all competitions. 

“The reality is we still have possibilities within the squad. That's why we've got to find the solutions and why we are here as coaches,” Mokwena told Sowetan.

“If we have no possibilities of using the strikers that's the situation that's presented to us and therefore we've got to find different solutions to the problems. Fortunately, we worked on things in this break, in different structures in attack, to try to see whether we could play a different way without some of our strikers. 

“In a friendly against TS Galaxy at Chloorkop, we worked on different organisational forms and were able to find a bit of joy. But it is what it is. It depends how you want to look at it, and I always say life is about perspective — it depends which pair of glasses you want to use."

Mokwena and his fellow Sundowns co-head coach Manqoba Mngqithi have deployed Thapelo Morena, who is a right-back by trade, as a forward at times this season with several key attackers missing due to injury or suspension. 

The former Orlando Pirates assistant coach remains hopeful that Shalulile, who is still placed at the top of the PSL's goalscoring charts with 13 goals, will soon rediscover his scoring form.

“You can look at it as a crisis if you want. But sometimes that doesn't help you because sometimes if you look at it from the negative perspective you are stuck in not trying to find solutions," he added. 

“We try to be an organisation driven by positive energy and try to be leaders who are solution-based and of course, I think it's only a matter of time before Peter scores. We know his qualities and what he gives to the team. It's not just about putting the ball into the back of the net.

“We spoke about it before the game. He's responsible, like all our other strikers, to start defending from the top, to help us to start creating possibilities for penetrative movements."

Mokwena was pleased to see Kermit Erasmus make his return from injury against Al Merrikh and he also indicated that they will wait for the club's medical team to assess Saavedra's injury before revealing the extent of the injury. 

“And as long as he does that and the bigger picture is for the team to benefit we are content. But that also presents an opportunity to a player like Kermit Erasmus, who came on [against Merrikh] after some time and some injuries, to also start pushing for a place in the team," he added.

“We'll wait for a directive from the medical department [regarding Saavedra's injury]."