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Mamelodi Sundowns’ success building blocks for Bafana and Banyana

Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate lifting the trophy after beating Wydad Casablanca in the final of the African Football League

Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate lifting the trophy after beating Wydad Casablanca in the final of the African Football League. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Nov 21, 2023

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Mamelodi Sundowns are richly deserving of all the success and plaudits that are coming their way, and it’s high time that the country’s national teams follow suit.

It’s been a great week for the football club – the Sundowns won the CAF Women’s Champions League for the second time while and men’s team won the inaugural African Football League.

Those triumphs have put them head and shoulders above the rest in South Africa and arguably the continent.

Kudos to the club. They’ve made sure that they put their investments to good use, having been previously lamented for wasting resources due to the deep pockets of owner Patrice Motsepe.

The management can’t take sole credit for the good returns, though. In fact, they shouldn’t at all. It’s the players and the technical team that give their all in matches.

Bafana Bafana got their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers off to a bright start last weekend, beating Benin 2-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. And despite Steve Mounie halving the deficit for the visitors, it was an impressive performance from the South Africans.

Benin coach Gernot Rohr sang the praises of the Sundowns players in Bafana.

“It was not far away from the draw. We tried, but the experience and complexity of the block of Sundowns, you can see they know themselves very well,” said Rohr.

“Sadly, we don’t have this complexity in our team. When you have a block of six or seven players from one big club, it’s always easier to make a good and collective game.”

The former Nigerian national team coach was largely impressed with the combination of Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, Aubrey Modiba, Mothobi Mvala and Khuliso Mudau, who scored the second goal against Benin.

To maintain the harmony among the team and South African citizens, coach Hugo Broos dismissed Rohr’s sentiments that Sundowns players are carrying the national team, saying every player does their bit on the day.

However, it seems that Broos’s employers at Safa rate Sundowns highly, with reports emerging that the association is considering bolstering Broos’s backroom team for the Afcon in Ivory Coast with the club’s personnel.

Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena or his assistant Manqoba Mngqithi could reportedly emerge as Broos’s assistant at Afcon in the absence of Helman Mkhalele.

Mkhalele will likely not be eligible to sit in the dugout during the continental event as he doesn’t have the required coaching documents – a CAF A or Pro coaching licence. Broos, again, dismissed those talks but should Zwane & Co continue with their fine form against Rwanda in their second World Cup qualifier today, the Belgian might just run out of places to hide.

These impressive displays from Sundowns players seem to cut across club and country. At least that was evident in Banyana ba Style’s triumph in the Champions League in Ivory Coast.

Andile Dlamini kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 win over Sporting Club Casablanca which ensured a clean sweep in the tournament, having been unbeaten in all five matches.

But the Banyana Banyana international didn’t win the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award on her own – her teammates supported her by keeping things tidy at the back. And perhaps kudos should also go to Lebogang Ramalape, who had a brilliant final.

Ramalepe, Dlamini, Kholosa Biyana, Melinda Kgadiete and Karabo Dhlamini were all part and parcel of the Banyana team that made history in finishing in the last 16 in this year’s World Cup.

And it doesn’t end there. The supporters of the mighty big two – Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates – are starting to envy what Sundowns are achieving as a club.

Not only do the Brazilians have a ladies’ team – unlike the two – but that team is dominating in its space, like their male counterparts who are on course to win a record seventh successive Premiership title.

IOL Sport