Mamelodi Sundowns' Lunga put Salah in his pocket and that helped us profile him - Mokwena


Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena says they signed Zimbabwe international defender Divine Lunga because of his “ability to perform in big matches” while they went for 26-year-old striker Pavol Safranko because of his age.

Sundowns also welcomed midfielder Grant Kekana from SuperSport United and attacking midfielder Neo Maema who came in from Bloemfontein Celtic.

On Lunga, Mokwena stated they were charmed by how he performed in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opening match between hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe in which the former Golden Arrows left-back was the Warriors’ standout player.

In that game, Lunga received much credit for marking Liverpool star Mohamed Salah out of the game which the hosts narrowly won 1-0.

“He is also the one who ticks a lot of boxes because he is versatile as he can play left centre-half‚ left-back. He has possibilities of getting into the final third, where his numbers are very good, and he has the ability to create scoring opportunities from wide areas,” said Mokwena as per Sowetan Live.

“His age is good in relation to longevity and his other quality is his ability in dead-ball situations. His height is important in Africa because there you have to be aggressive in the air and in dead-ball situations.

“We are fortunate that he is an international for Zimbabwe, he's got World Cup qualifiers experience and he’s got the experience of playing Afcon qualifiers in games of consequence.

“Probably his best game was against Egypt where he put Mohamed Salah in his pocket. Those games helped us to profile him and he has the ability to perform in big matches.”
Turning to Safranko who is from Slovakia, Mokwena said they were attracted by the forward’s tactical qualities and that he is also regarded as one for the future.

The 26-year-old was signed from Romanian side Sepsi OSK and has had a previous stint at Scottish outfit Dundee United. 

“He is somebody who can help us with different aspects of the game and his age is something that is important for us because we want to cut down the average age of our squad,” Mokwena said.

“We are trying to recruit players that are younger because it is very important that big teams have succession plans.

“He also brings technical and tactical qualities that we may not have had in our striker. He has the ability to be the focal point and be able to link up play in and around the box when you play against teams that reinforce the defence.”

Also joining Sundowns is long term target Kekana who is a utility player.

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"He also brings a lot of versatility because he is able to play left-back, right-back and centre-half, which is very important,” said Mokwena.

“In these Covid-19 times, you need players that are able to slot in at various positions and I have a feeling that he can play as a defensive midfielder. 

Maema arrived from Celtic and is regarded as a left-footed winger who has “enormous potential to develop and become better.”