Medical remarks by Sundowns coach has Safa seeing red
Rulani Mokwena suggests Downs players return from national duty carrying injuries or are fatigued
SA Football Association (Safa) chief medical officer Thulani Ngwenya has fired back at Rulani Mokwena after the Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach suggested their players return from national duty carrying injuries or are fatigued.
Ngwenya was not impressed that instead of talking about Sundowns’ 2-2 draw with Congolese side AS Maniema Union in a Caf Champions League match on Sunday, Mokwena elected to use the opportunity to lash out at Bafana Bafana and the Safa medical department.
The Sundowns coach’s utterances upset a lot of people at Safa House, as he also suggested the Pretoria club is unable to communicate with members of the medical department, that they do not know the training programme followed by Bafana and the national team’s itinerary is never shared with them.
Ngwenya was not amused and communicated his unhappiness on Thursday.
“First, I am disappointed that technical people are discussing medical matters,” Ngwenya said. “I am disappointed [because] it means the technical people at Sundowns are also not communicating with the medical department [at the Pretoria club], if any. But I have spoken personally to both Dr Carl Tabane and Dr Paul Maphoto [members of the Sundowns medical team] regarding their players.
“I have seen a report that was sent by Dr Tshepo Molobi. He copied me because he copies me on all correspondences that have to do with medical. It was sent to Mamelodi Sundowns. It is just unfortunate.”
Ngwenya said the Safa physical trainer also made a point of sharing the GPS scores of the players to their counterparts at Sundowns.
“So it is just disappointing when you get a coach [Mokwena] saying such things,” he said.
“It seems as if we are not professional. I have been at Bafana for 10 years now and Sundowns have had coaches, and the previous coach [Pitso Mosimane] before the current coaches [Mokwena, Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela], have never complained that we do not give them reports.”
The simmering tension between the two parties started a few weeks ago when an incensed Bafana coach Hugo Broos accused Sundowns and Orlando Pirates of sabotaging his plans in the build-up to the recent back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia.
Bafana beat the East Africans home and away but Broos dominated the headlines after he suggested there were attempts to undermine his work.
Mokwena responded with his own salvo a few days ago, suggesting, among other things, that key players Thapelo Morena, Rushine de Reuck, Thabiso Kutumela and Mothobi Mvala returned from national duty in poor shape.
Mokwena complained about the training and match load pointing out that most of the injuries are all muscular.
These comments and many others made by Mokwena rubbed Ngwenya and Safa up the wrong way, with the chief medical officer taking a dim view of the utterances.
“If you remember last year, we visited all the clubs with [former Bafana coach] Molefi Ntseki,” he said on Thursday. “I mean, why now are we all of a sudden not communicating? What I would really ask is that technical people must leave medical matters to medical people. They must not use medical people when they have got their own issues to deal with.”