July 27, 2021

Nascimento doubtful for Mamelodi Sundowns’ Nedbank Cup tie vs Bidvest Wits

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The Tshwane giants remain plagued by injuries ahead of their return to competitive football on Saturday

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has conceded that he is “not brave enough” to declare his side ready for the resumption of football in South Africa, as he announced goalkeeper Denis Onyango as the latest addition to his team’s injury list.

The Brazilians will mark their return to action against Bidvest Wits in a Nedbank Cup semi-final match at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

But Onyango has been confirmed as having picked up an injury, together with Venezuelan forward Jose Ali Meza and Brazilian defender Ricardo Nascimento, to add to a list of players with fitness concerns.

“We have Ali Meza injured, the next two days will give us a chance to see if he is available. Dennis has a niggling injury also,” Mosimane told SuperSport.com.

The Downs tactician also confirmed that defender Anele Ngcongca is not training and will miss Saturday’s match, together with Keletso Makgalwa and forward Mauricio Affonso, who is still recovering while in his home country Uruguay.

Thapelo Morena is now involved in full training but Mosimane says he does not want to risk the utility player by rushing him back to action.

Apart from the Nedbank Cup, Sundowns also have nine Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches awaiting them and could be involved in a total of 11 games within a month before completing their season.

Mosimane and his charges have previously faced a similar scenario while participating in the more taxing Caf Champions League.

“There should never be a challenge with the number of games, I hear people saying, ‘no. but you are used to playing so many games in a short space of time’. And that is right, but we usually play with a base of three and a half months of playing regularly,” continued Mosimane.

“Now we don’t have that, so let’s see what happens with injuries and whether the body is ready. We have to manage the players.”

The return of football comes after five months since action was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have never had anything like this before in our lifetime, so it is a strange position for football. Because nobody has been in this space before, we don’t really know how we will deal with the issues. So for me to tell you, ‘we are ready, we know what to do, we know how we will handle this’. I am not brave enough to say that,” he added.

“There is no team spirit in the camp because we are eating over a period of two hours, most separately. This one pops in, then the other one goes out. Sometimes you are in the dining room alone. Where are your colleagues that you always eat with?”

On the league front, second-placed Sundowns are four points behind, having played a game fewer than leaders Kaizer Chiefs, whom they meet later after resuming their title bid against Orlando Pirates.