Mokwena Reveals Stance On Sundowns And Promoting Youth

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 18: Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and AmaZulu FC at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 18: Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and AmaZulu FC at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Lefty Shivambu

The demands to win at Mamelodi Sundowns are so high that it may have come at a cost to the team’s budding youngsters from making the step into the club’s first team, according to the club’s co-coach Rulani Mokwena.

Read: More Exits Pending At Sundowns Amid Mashego Arrival?

While Sundowns’ first team have thrived in recent years thanks to their unmatched buying power, very few youth players have made the progression into the first team.

The likes of Kaizer Chiefs and to a certain extent, Orlando Pirates have been actively promoting youth players – and giving them game time, while Sundowns have not particularly followed suit.

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This season, Sundowns have only promoted Cassius Mailula and Ntando Nkosi, and now Mokwena has revealed the reason behind that.   

“The reality is [that] of course, we want to promote from the youth and maybe in the last few years since we have been given the responsibility to lead, we haven’t really given a lot of youngsters from the academy an opportunity. Last season, we gave Viera [Ofentse Mashiane] a chance against Royal AM and then we have given Cassius [Mailula] an opportunity,” Mokwena told journalists after the club's 1-0 win over AmaZulu.

“But we have to be very careful not to promote for the sake of promoting and looking like we are trying to popularize this thing of youngsters given a chance.

“When they are ready, we try our level best to give them opportunities. I think Ntando is going to be very special, Cassius is going to be something very special and then of course the reality is that when these young ones are playing with some of the best players in the country, they get to learn and improve,” he said.

Read: Zwane Gives Verdict On Bimenyimana's First Chiefs Start

Mokwena says the club is reluctant to promote scores of young players out of fear that their careers might stagnate like that of Promise Mkhuma or go off the rails completely as seen in the case of Khayelihle Shozi.

“We’ve also got to be very careful that we don’t have situations that we have with Khaya [Shozi], with Promise [Mkhuma], we’ve got to be very careful. [The] environment is important and so is opportunities, but I think in a very good moment when they raise their hands up they will get chances. 

“It’s not about winning that competition of who is promoting the most players,” he added.

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