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Caf Champions League: Mamelodi Sundowns' Mokwena blames Bafana Bafana after AS Maniema Union draw

12:14 BST 18/10/2021
Themba Zwane & Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns, October 2020
The tactician said they were disappointedly denied the services of players that were injured during international engagements

Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rhulani Mokwena has blamed Bafana Bafana for their injured players who missed the Caf Champions League match against AS Maniema Union on Sunday.
Lebohang Maboe, Grant Kekana, Divine Lunga, Rushine De Reuck, and Mothobi Mvala were unavailable for the continental duty where Masandawana drew 2-2 against the DR Congo side, and the coach has blamed the national team for the injuries sustained when they took part in the World Cup qualifiers last week.

Missed stars

"We missed Lebo [Lebohang Maboe] and everybody knows the impact Lebo has; he gives the energy in the midfield particularly, in games like these. In the Champions League, we need a little bit more legs to close down spaces when playing against robust and energetic opposition," Mokwena told the club's media department.
"You need very good counter-pressing and the ability to get the next men in the midfield into the attacking half, and normally Lebo gives us that.
"Kekana has helped us retain clean sheets within the defensive line and we missed him. Then, unfortunately, with the Bafana players, it is a very difficult situation because, with Bafana, we can not even communicate with the medical department.

"We do not know the itinerary of Bafana, we do not know the training programme of Bafana and we do not get training feedback in relation to the load. There is no data.
"There is no corporation between Bafana and that frustrates us a little bit because at the moment, as Mamelodi Sundowns we are always, over the years, shown the willingness to support the nation, support the cause and release the personnel including the support structure. 

"Mamelodi Sundowns has always put Bafana, in fact in certain moments, ahead of its own cause. It is a bit disappointing that even in the previous camp Thapelo Morena returned injured and he is not fully back yet.
"We are trying to get him into the group and we gave him a couple of minutes [vs AS Maniema Union]. Of course, he has returned to fitness and to training, but at the moment he is not at the right competitive level where he is ready.
"Then you have the situation of Mvala, who is so important for us and particularly in this African sojourn. His physicality and the ability to win aerial duels, his ability to control and give us a little bit of competitiveness in the midfield were missed.
"Then he comes from Bafana and he is injured, you know. De Reuck, in our previous match, against Swallows, could not finish the game on the precautionary ground but played for Bafana.
"[Thabiso] Kutumela is jaded and overloaded and then comes and struggles with his performance."

National cause

Although the tactician is disappointed with the national team, he insisted the club will continue supporting Bafana.

"This disappoints us but OK it is what it is and we have to continue supporting the national course," Mokwena continued.
"Ours is to focus on what we need to focus on and try to control what we can control. I will reiterate, as Mamelodi Sundowns, we will keep supporting the national course. It is just disappointing that in the last two international breaks we received our players and they came back with injury complications."
Next up, Masandawana will be up against Golden Arrows on October 20 for a local league match.