COMMENT: Mamelodi Sundowns have a chance to silence TS Galaxy’s Tim Sukazi in Carling Knockout

Tim Sukazi all but made his feelings known about the African Football League. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Tim Sukazi all but made his feelings known about the African Football League. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Oct 18, 2023


Politics and sport, it is generally believed, do not mix. The assumption is that once they get on to the pitch, players do not give a hoot about what the politicians say.

And, so, it is unlikely then that the direction of tomorrow’s Carling Knockout clash between TS Galaxy and Mamelodi Sundowns will be influenced by the recent pronouncements by Rockets chairperson Tim Sukazi on Sundowns’ involvement in the African Football League.

Or will it?

Sukazi was outspoken against the new continental competition the other day at the official launch of the new domestic Cup tournament. Sukazi said – in a nutshell – that the AFL had the potential to dilute the Premiership in the same way that Super Rugby did the Currie Cup, as he supported the PSL’s decision to block Sundowns’ participation.

While he did say that Sundowns were deserved representatives of South Africa in the competition, Sukazi’s stance and public support for the league’s decision that has since been rescinded, could well have not been taken too kindly at Chloorkop.

And as they make the trip to Mbombela Stadium, what are the chances that Sundowns could be out to silence the outspoken “politician” by sending his team tumbling out of the Carling Knockout?

Chances of coach Rulani Mokwena lacing his pre-match team talk with “shut their chairperson up with a sizzling performance” are slim to none, and slim has just left town.

In any case, while Sukazi was vocal about his being anti-AFL, the reality is that the rest of the PSL – both the Premiership, as well as the Motsepe Foundation Championship teams – had voted against Sundowns participating.

Sundowns chairperson, Tlhopi Motsepe, on the other hand, could well be excused for asking his players to show the rest of the PSL that his club are not only SA football kings but that they deserve to play in all major competitions in Africa by winning every time they play.

It will not be asking too much, given that Sundowns have done just that since Mokwena took sole charge of the team.

The only loss Sundowns suffered was the Nedbank Cup defeat to Stellenbosch FC last season. Lest Orlando Pirates fans start shouting expletives regarding their team’s MTN8 victory over Sundowns earlier this month, it has to be pointed out that the Soweto club only won on penalties.

TS Galaxy will be excused for fancying their chances tomorrow though, what with Sundowns going into the match without some of their key stars who are away on national team duty in the Ivory Coast.

All of Ronwen Williams, Themba Zwane, Mothobi Mvala, Khuliso Mudau, Grant Kekana and Teboho Mokoena were with Bafana Bafana in Abijdan for last night’s friendly – the latter also being suspended domestically anyway.

It remains to be seen just what kind of approach Mokwena takes in the match. The absence of those stars is compounded by the fact that Sundowns have an away AFL clash against Petro de Luanda at the weekend.

Does he save his key players for the continental trip or does he field his strongest team possible just to silence the likes of Sukazi, who are of the view that the AFL will dilute local competition?

The reality though is that, such is Sundowns’ strength in depth, that whatever team they field cannot really be described as being second string.