Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mokwena explains how Saavedra signing will benefit South Africa

19:45 EAT 08/02/2022
Bolivia's Erwin Saavedra, November 2021
The Bolivia international is expected to land in Gauteng late on Tuesday as he begins a new chapter in his career

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena has hinted new signing Erwin Saavedra could feature in Friday’s Caf Champions League match against Al Hilal as he also explains the significance of bringing in the midfielder to the Premier Soccer League.

Masandawana host the Sudanese giants on Friday in their Group A opener at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

With Saavedra expected to arrive in South Africa on Tuesday, he could start training on Thursday and there is a possibility of him being part of the matchday squad on Friday.

This is after a long trip to South Africa, which started on Sunday and took him via Peru and the Netherlands.

“Hopefully he’ll join us by Thursday, we’ll induct him into the club, we’ll work with regards to all the other medical procedures that need to be done and familiarise him with our training, the squad and the processes that happen with regards to our preparation, and then we will take it from there,” said Mokwena as per iDiski Times.

“Hopefully we can incorporate him into the matchday squad as quickly as possible, but we are very, very patient and excited. And this is not just big for Mamelodi Sundowns, but it’s big for South African football because if you can bring this type of profile of player to the South African game, the bigger beneficiaries are the South African public and this can only augur well for South African football in the future of the football of this country.”

Saavedra arrives in Tshwane with a high profile of being a full Bolivia international with more than 40 caps, the last being last week’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Chile.

He has been to three Copa America tournaments and his experience playing against South American giants like Argentina and Brazil could be what excites Mokwena who feels the player will bring a lot to the PSL.

“Yes, we’re excited, excited by the profile of a very good player that comes into a very good team already,” Mokwena said.

This is the second time for Saavedra to play outside his native Bolivia, having previously had a short stint in Brazil with Serie B side Goias.

At Sundowns, he will be reunited with his former Bolivar teammate Gaston Sirino.

Meanwhile, Mokwena has confirmed the departure of Brazilian defender Ricardo Nascimento.

“Ricardo Nascimento, yes, well, I’m sure the club will officially release a statement [abour his exit] and I think that is only fair and proper,” said Mokwena.

“Because the reality is when a loyal servant like Ricardo has served you with such distinction, it is only proper that you deal with his departure with the best possible dignity and respect for the profile and his contribution.

“He’s been nothing but a loyal servant. His performances on the pitch, speak only about a player that was always willing to do more than required of him.”

Nascimento leaves Sundowns to open space for their foreign player quota and accommodate Saavedra.