Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane believes his team is struggling to cope with Themba Zwane's loss of form since the return of football.
The Tshwane giants are winless in their last four league games - three draws and a defeat - and according to Mosimane, this is because Zwane hasn't been as influential as he has been in the last eight years for his club.
The Tembisa-born attacker was left on the bench in the 2-2 draw against Maritzburg United with Promise Mkhuma taking his place in the starting XI, and Mosimane explained he had to make the necessary changes.
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"If you're honest Themba Zwane is our most important player. Since we came back he hasn’t had much influence on the game as much as he has for the last eight years. We have to be honest with it and make some necessary changes. We had Promise [Mkhuma] in his place. Promise played well," Mosimane told the media.
Mosimane said Zwane has also been honest enough to himself to admit that he hasn't been at his best.
And the 56-year-old said while this is the reality he's currently facing, he offered Zwane the support he feels the midfielder needed because he still an important member of his Sundowns squad alongside the likes of Gaston Sirino and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
"He understands also. We had our talk and he accepts. He said, 'coach I am not at my best. I don’t know what is happening’.
"I said, 'look it’s the way it is so we move on. You have done so well for us for all these years that tonight we can feel different about you'.
"We need him. He is an important player. Same as Vilakazi, we need him. He is an important player. Sirino, we need him. He is an important player. They are not at their best at this point in time. They are key players," added Mosimane.
Sundowns are five points behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs and their inability to win matches has given Ernst Middendorp the advantage in the title race.
They could find themselves eight points behind Middendorp's charges on Sunday afternoon provided Chiefs beat Stellenbosch FC.