Author: Katleho Hlalele
DStv Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns have released more than ten players at the end of the 2021/22 season including former Cape Town City star Kermit Erasmus, who rejoined Orlando Pirates on deadline day [22 September 2022] of the transfer window. Despite winning the treble last season, the Tshwane giants saw the need to rejuvenate their squad with some local and international players.
Since the departure of coach Pitso Mosimane to Al Ahly in September 2020, the Brazilians have kept the core of the team that was led by Mosimane for two seasons even though they changed their playstyle. Most players who were released by Sundowns were the ones not getting enough game time at the club and were over 30 years old.
The newly appointed head coach of Sundowns, RulaniMokwena, revealed to the media that since they were building a new team, they had decided to release some of their players. Two months ago, Mokwena addressed the media about the best players that the Mamelodi Sundowns will bring in if they become available on the market. Masandawana signed seven players to build depth in their squad as they look to challenge the Champions League trophy.
“What I can say to you is that we want the best players in this team. And we try to recruit the best players and when they become available in the market, we have an obligation to our supporters to make sure we move into that space,” said Mokwena in September 2022 when he addressed the media.
The club signed centre-back Abdelmounaim Boutouil from Botola Pro, SCC Mohammedia, who was the first Moroccan player to join a PSL club. The 24-year-old signed a three-year deal with an option to extend to two more years. The centre-back has been struggling with game time at Sundowns having played one match for twenty-five minutes since he arrived at Sundowns. Last season, the defender played nine matches for SCC Mohammedia.
Boutouil's arrival to Mamelodi Sundowns can arguably be seen as a replacement for Ricardo Nascimento who joined Royal AM. The signing of Boutouil revealed the need for a left centre-back at Sundowns, though Boutouil has not contributed much to Bafana Ba Style. After some technical changes that have been made at the club, Boutouil’s move proves to be a little erroneous because the player is still struggling with game time.
Furthermore, since Mokwena became the head coach of Sundowns on October 24, 2022, the club has not conceded any goal, and they have used the three centre-backs [Grant Kekana, Mosa Lebusa and Rushine De Reuck] in the four matches they played so far. This suggests that Boutouil will find it hard to break into the starting line-up of Sundownssince the club is also looking at keeping the momentum of getting clean sheets. And the understanding of his competitors [ Kekana and De Reuck] will make it hard for the left centre-back to play.
Another defender the Sundowns have added to their club on a five-year deal is Mamelodi-born Terrence Mashego. The talented left-back will compete with Aubrey Modiba and Sifiso Ngobeni after the club loaned Lyle Lakay to Cape Town City. Mashego’s signing will benefit the club a lot when they play in the CAF Champions League because the club will need a depth of quality players to help them maintain their dominance in the Premier Soccer League.
Mashego’s speed will benefit Mamelodi Sundowns when they attack and defend. For instance, when Sundowns lost a game against Orlando Pirates at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, they were exposed to the left side because Modiba couldn’t deal with Saleng’s speed. But a player like Mashego with speed will track back quickly when the opposition is in transition.
The 24-year-old was a regular at Cape Town City having spent two seasons with the club and has made 67 appearances for the club since his arrival in October 2020. Mashegodoesn’t simply bring league football experience at Sundowns, he also brings international experience because he has been part of the Bafana Bafana camp for some time and has also played in the CAF confederation cup with TS Galaxy. However, Mashego hasn’t contributed much to Sundowns due to injury but came on as a sub when Sundowns beat AmaZulu1 – 0 in a league match.
The goalkeeping department at Mamelodi Sundowns has been dominated by the former Ugandan international captain for more than five seasons. Denis Onyango's age is not on his side with the direction that his club is currently taking. Onyango, 37, has been struggling for game time since BafanaBafana captain signed with the club.
Williams' move to Sundowns gave the club a better chance to win the CAF Champions League. The experienced goalkeeper from Bafana Bafana will help Mamelodi Sundowns when they play in the Champions League since he gets game time in international football. Since Williams arrived at Sundowns, he played all the league matches and MTN8 matches for the club. Out of those fifteen matches, the former SupersportUnited goalkeeper conceded eight goals and kept ten clean sheets. And his contribution at Sundowns so far helped the team to have the best defence in the league. Currently, he is the only goalkeeper with a lot of clean sheets in the league.
After the club released two midfielders, George Maluleka and Sibusiso Vilakazi, they brought in Sipho Mbule and BonganiZungu. However, both Mbule and Zungu haven’t shown their capabilities since they joined Sundowns. Mbule played 244 minutes for Sundowns in three competitions that the club have featured in so far this season. The 24-year-old competitors like Sphelele Mkhulise and Neo Maema have played more minutes than he did. His lack of game time at Supersport last season is a revelation of his performances at Sundowns. Mbule can play as a number eight or ten, but the midfielder hasn’t found his form yet since he came to Mamelodi Sundowns.
On the other hand, Bongani Zungu is yet to regain his formsince he came back from France. Zungu was overweight when he returned to Sundowns for a second spell. But the talented central midfielder spent pre-season training at Chloorkop to get back in shape quickly, not having enough games at Amiens SC after Zungu’s performance.
Previously, Rulani Mokwena didn’t hide his opinion about Bongani Zungu from the media after the club beat La Passe of Seychelles. Mokwena told the media how unhappy he was with the player and that he needed to push himself hard.
“He knows I’m not happy, [ about his fitness progress], he knows he can do more. I’m not afraid to say it here because I’ve said it to him. But we continue to work.”
“The physical trainers have tried to assist him and it’s not easy because of where Bongani has been in the last two seasons. It has been very difficult for him”, Mokwena said.
At Rangers, Bongani Zungu played 549 minutes during his loan spell in the 2020/21 season, while he made only 17 appearances in all competitions for his Amiens team last season.
Ethiopian Abubeker Nasir and Chile youngster Marcelo Allende gave Bafana Ba Style a huge attacking option. Nasir is a very dynamic player who can also score and create goals for Sundowns. The 23-year-old scored three goals so far for the Brazilians in two matches. His ability to score goals gives the Sundowns’ technical team the option of using him as a false number nine as well. He can also get himself in dangerous positions to score goals while he is playing as a left-winger.
Meanwhile, the South American-born is growing day by day at Mamelodi Sundowns. The signing of Allende will help the Sundowns team a lot in offense because he can play in different attacking positions. Allende has adapted quickly to the speed of South African football having played thirteen matches for Masandawana. The playmaker doesn’t only help the Sundowns to attack, he also helps the team with build-ups while looking for the right channels to penetrate.
Bafana Ba Style are currently on top of the DStv Premiership and they have returned to training for the second leg of the season. Sundowns will face Orlando Pirates after the World Cup at Loftus Versfeld next month.
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in