Lack of Sundowns players in Bafana worrying

By Drum Digital
14 October 2014

Former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Koketso Mmotong thinks the dearth of players from the defending Premiership champions in the national team should be of concern to the club

. "It does tend to reflect badly that such a big club like Sundowns does not have at least three or four players in the set-up," Mmotong said on Tuesday.

Midfielder Themba Zwane is the sole Sundowns player in coach Shakes Mashaba's current Bafana Bafana squad.

The 25 year-old was discarded by Sundowns two years ago, when he was loaned to Mpumalanga Black Aces, only to be recalled this campaign after a stellar season.

It was an unflattering comparison between Sundowns and the club's two biggest rivals in the Premiership, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs --each contributing four players to the squad.

Senzo Meyiwa, Thabo Matlaba, Oupa Manyisa and Kermit Erasmus were from Pirates, while Eric Mathoho, Tefu Mashamaite, Mandla Masango and Reneilwe Letsholonyane played for Chiefs.

Although Sundowns players Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Bongani Zungu and Percy Tau had previously been named in provisional squads, they had failed to make the final cut.

Zwane had made two appearances for Bafana, both times as a substitute in the recent Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, during the 3-0 victory over Sudan and the goalless draw against Nigeria.

The 34 year-old Mmotong hoped to see more Sundowns players being given a run in future although they faced some internal challenges at the club.

"It's not to say that there aren't any good, worthy players at the club," he said.

"There are good players who can be influential for Bafana. I think the large number of foreigners we have in the team also affects the progress of some of our local players."

Mmotong, a life-long Sundowns supporter, also bemoaned the shortage of top players from Mamelodi township in the club and the Premiership at large.

"There is talent in abundance in Mamelodi. Some of the players I've seen are incredible and it hurts that many don't make it to the big leagues."

Mmotong felt talented players became disgruntled and discouraged when they went unnoticed.

"A lot of good players are not given a chance by professional clubs. We don't have scouts coming to our townships, coming to spot talent and that is disappointing."

Nevertheless, he hailed Bafana's recent form since Mashaba took over from former national coach Gordon Igesund.

"I have been very impressed by Bafana's performances of late. I think they play with a lot of heart and passion which reflects in the results. They are young and they are hungry – you can see that.

"Shakes is a coach who likes to work with players he knows well and has worked with before. At Sundowns I don't think he has had the experience of working with many players."

Tuks midfielder Mpho Matsi and Chiefs winger George Lebese were just two players doing well in the Premiership from Mmotong's hometown of Mamelodi, and he said they brought joy to his heart.

"I know George and Mpho. They are only two of many players that come from Mamelodi. I feel more needs to be done to unearth the talent that we have in the townships."

Bafana face Congo in an Afcon qualifier in Polokwane at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday.


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