Zwane is the club’s biggest blow because he is their heartbeat.
HLOMPHO Kekana wore a worried look on his face when he spoke about Mamelodi Sundowns’ slump, but his voice was filled with confidence knowing that they have been here before and they bounced back stronger.
The Brazilians have won just one of their last five games in the PSL, letting in three goals in their last game against Golden Arrows at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, and they will return to the same venue tomorrow to take on Arrows, this time in the Telkom Knockout semi-finals. If they are victorious, they will return to Durban for the final on December 14 to take on either Kaizer Chiefs or Maritzburg United.
This knockout competition is a perfect opportunity for Sundowns to wake up from their slumber and start looking like themselves with Chiefs 10 points ahead of them in the league, even though Amakhosi have played one more match.
“It’s a phase, every team has to face it especially at this time of the season,” Kekana said. “For us I think that it’s very, very good that we are going through this when the league has just started. We still have so many games that we have to play. ‘Fo sho’, we want to rectify the mistakes we have committed in previous matches. One of those challenges that we have faced is to score goals. We want to make sure that we score goals in the next match. We also have to defend well. We conceded three goals against Arrows which is something that was a concern for us.”
What has hurt Sundowns is the number of offensive players who have been sidelined around the same time due to injuries. Just as when Phakamani Mahlambi and Keletso Makgalwa were finding their feet, the young forwards were injured, and the Brazilians had to make do without them. As if that wasn’t enough, the creative pair of Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane were also injured.
Zwane is the club’s biggest blow because he is their heartbeat, without him Sundowns haven’t had a pulse. Sirino will look to give the Brazilians that against Arrows as he will be back tomorrow.
For all their success, Sundowns have a poor record in domestic knockout competitions under coach Pitso Mosimane.
“Personally, I would say we have struggled in cup competitions because of how we juggle all these competitions,” Kekana said. “We can’t multi-task sometimes. We find ourselves in a difficult position, we play matches that are very, very highly tactical and intensive and when we have to tackle those (domestic cup) matches, we struggle to find the right balance.
“We are working on it. We are human.”