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Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES/FILE IMAGE
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES/FILE IMAGE

Tension continues to grow between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos after the Pretoria club’s co-coach Rulani Mokwena shared their growing  frustration with the national team. 

The tension started a few weeks ago when an incensed Broos accused Sundowns and Orlando Pirates of sabotaging his plans in the build-up to the recent 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia. Bafana beat the Ethiopians home and away (3-1 and 1-0), but Broos dominated the headlines after he suggested there were attempts to undermine his work.

Mokwena responded to the claims after Sundowns drew 2-2 with Congolese side AS Maniema Union in a Caf Champions League match on Sunday and said their players returned from the national team either carrying injuries or tired.

“Also unfortunately with the Bafana players, it’s a very difficult situation because with Bafana we can’t even communicate with the medical department. We don’t know the itinerary of Bafana, we don’t know the training programme of Bafana,” Mokwena said.

“We don’t get training feedback in relation to the load, there’s no data. So the co-operation between Bafana frustrates us a little because in a moment’s [notice] as Mamelodi Sundowns, we are always the first to over the years show a willingness to support the nation, to support the cause and release as much personnel [as possible].”

An irate Broos was particularly peeved that Sundowns arranged for Thabiso Kutumela to be vaccinated shortly before he was to join the Bafana camp for the matches against Ethiopia. The outspoken Belgian also took the time to register his unhappiness with Pirates after he was denied access into Orlando Stadium to watch a league match between Bucs and Sundowns last month.

The Premier Soccer League issued a statement and apologised for the incident.  

Mokwena said they have tried to accommodate Bafana more than other clubs and they had even released several other members of the technical team to assist the national cause over the years, but these attempts to find common ground have not helped soothe relations.

Mokwena pointed out a number of Sundowns players who have returned from Bafana camps recently carrying injuries. They include Thapelo Morena, Mothobi Mvala, Rushine de Reuck and Kutumela. The coach said if they were not injured they were jaded and unable to play a full 90 minutes for Sundowns.