Mamelodi Sundowns players ‘compete without a toxic feeling’ amongst each other, says Mokwena

Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns, January 2023Backpagepix
  • Mokwena has lauded the competition within the squad
  • The Brazilians have taken advantage of their bench power
  • Sundowns now 22 points clear after 14 straight league wins

WHAT HAPPENED? Sundowns beat Sekhukhune United 2-0 courtesy of second-half goals from Peter Shalulile and Cassius Mailula to continue their incredible winning run in the PSL.

The Brazilians were reduced to 10 men with 16 minutes to go when Marcelo Allende was sent off following a dangerous tackle on Victor Letsoalo but they were unfazed and even scored the second goal six minutes later.

Sundowns made three changes to the side that edged out TS Galaxy in midweek with Brian Onyango, Mosa Lebusa and Neo Maema starting while Dennis Onyango and Andile Jali were among those who retained their places, having featured sparingly this season.

It was the 11th clean sheet over their 14-match winning run and Mokwena was impressed by the attitude of his players who he feels are benefiting from the increased competition.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “Four big chances for us, zero for them,” Mokwena said after the match. “We gave them nothing. We build up so good even after going a man down. So proud of the players and their efforts.

“We trained for that [competition in the squad] and even played friendly matches for that. They compete without a toxic feeling amongst each other, its healthy competition and it helps.

“AJ [Andile Jali] has been superb in the last two games, [Bongani] Zungu has had very good minutes in him to build him and he’s had good possibilities and Dennis Onyango has been in that space and it gives you an opportunity to have Kennedy [Mweene] on the bench to still be part of the group and it helps a lot in the group dynamics.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Victory left Sundowns on 52 points and within touching distance of a sixth straight PSL title with second-placed Richards Bay 22 behind, having played three fewer games than the Brazilians.

Mokwena has benefited greatly from the squad depth, easing pressure even when they have injuries like Saturday when up to 12 players were ruled out.

WHAT’S MORE? Mokwena was not surprised that his side continued attacking even after going a man down. “It’s the DNA of the team,” he added.

“The team is not built to absorb pressure, defend deep and play on the counter. It is not profiled like that with recruitment and training, so I’m not surprised that we still went and played the way we train.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Sundowns’ mettle will come under test from Orlando Pirates when the two sides meet next Saturday.

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