With the highly anticipated MTN8 final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates just around the corner, coach Rhulani Mokwena is holding onto the hope that Saturday's clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium will showcase the beautiful game of football fans crave.
Mamelodi Sundowns enter the final eager to extend their impressive unbeaten streak and, most importantly, to erase the bitter memory of last year's 3-0 MTN8 semi-final defeat at the hands of Pirates.
The stage is set for a dramatic showdown as the defending champions, Pirates, look to maintain their grip on the coveted trophy.
Mamelodi Sundowns latest news
Injury woes looming
However, amid the anticipation, Sundowns faces a few injury setbacks that could potentially impact their game plan.
Sipho Mbule finds himself on the treatment table, nursing an ankle injury that rules him out of the final clash.
Thapelo Morena's condition remains undisclosed, but he is confirmed as an omission from the squad, adding to the uncertainties.
Bathusi Aubaas is still in the process of recovering from a troublesome groin strain, adding to the growing list of unavailable players.
The situation becomes even more complex with the uncertainty surrounding Thapelo Maseko and Lucas Riberio, who are both injury wildcards.
Coach Mokwena has remained tight-lipped on whether they will feature, emphasizing his focus on working with the available resources.
Coach Mokwena's approach to the injury concerns is pragmatic and reflects his determination to navigate the challenges.
He notes, “We have to manage the situation as it is, and I’m focused mainly on what is on the training pitch and what is available. It doesn’t help to focus on players not available.”
Mamelodi Sundowns' Mokwena stresses concerns about Pirates' physical approach
Mamelodi Sundowns' coach, Rulani Mokwena, has expressed his apprehensions regarding Orlando Pirates' physical style of play, which has posed problems for his side in previous encounters.
Mokwena pointed out, “In almost every game against Pirates we lose a player with a very severe injury.”
He cited specific instances such as Hashim Domingo's injury during the Carling Cup and Abubeker Nassir's absence due to a situation involving Pirates' goalkeeper, Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Mokwena also highlighted a recent incident involving Nkosinathi Sibisi's two-footed tackle on Marcelo Allende, an injury from which Marcelo is still recovering.
Hoping for a cleaner, more football-focused match, Mokwena emphasized, “We know and understand the magnitude of the assignment.
“Hopefully, it's a very good game of football without the harassment of referees, without the physicality with tackles that are over the top.”
His desire is clear: to shift the focus away from off-the-ball altercations and onto the beautiful game itself.
As the final draws nearer, Mamelodi Sundowns find themselves in a precarious position, juggling the hope for victory with the uncertainties of injuries.
Fans and pundits alike await the showdown on Saturday evening, where the outcome remains uncertain, but the desire for exhilarating football prevails.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago