Sundowns thrown a ‘spanner’ as fixtures pile up

Rulani Mokwena. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

‘Everyone wants to work in a way where things are pre-planned,” said Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ well-oiled machine is being tested by changes to the fixture schedule, with Covid-19-induced disruptions to their Caf Champions League campaign also impacting on games in the DStv Premiership and Nedbank Cup.

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Sundowns have the week off, after the Confederation of African Football postponed Tuesday’s Caf Champions League Group B clash in Algeria against CR Belouzidad, scheduled for tomorrow, after the Algerian’s indicated that they would allow Sundowns into the country, as per health regulations in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Masandawana had already seen Saturday’s DStv Premiership fixture against Maritzburg United postponed to allow them time to travel to Algeria, and there was not time to reschedule that game for this week, especially as Sundowns are now set to travel to Tanzania this weekend to take on Belouzidad on neutral territory.

This means Sundowns’ Nedbank Cup last 16 match at home to Polokwane City, scheduled for Saturday, would have to be postponed, leaving Sundowns playing catch-up at a later date.

Sundowns are used to balancing continental competition with domestic duties, but the travel problems caused by Covid-19 have added an extra layer of pain for all involved.

“It puts a spanner in the works, because everyone wants to work in a way where things are pre-planned, and to navigate our way through a program that has been set out, particularly with us (Sundowns), who are big on periodisation. The have a good medical and sport science department with good conditioning and performance coaches,” said Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena yesterday.

“It throws off our preparations, we were working towards Maritzburg, or the Nedbank Cup on the weekend, and it is a bit different if you have to have another fixture. But it is what it is and the best thing to try to do is to have the right sort of perspective.

“Now we have two games in our pocket for a bit later in the season.”

With a four point lead at the top of the table, and the Telkom Knockout title already in the bag, as well as having already won their Champions League Group B opener against Al Hilal, Sundowns remain in a healthy position, and Mokwena did also note that the break does give them time to rest in a hectic schedule.

“With perspective, the break could be coming at a good moment, though we were getting confidence from good results and we didn’t want disruptions. But now is a time where we can work on the team in different game formats, and it also gives is time to regenerate and prioritie freshness,” he added.

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