At least four key Downs players are doubtful for their crucial last game of the season due to injuries
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has cast doubt over the availability of midfielder Andile Jali, goalkeeper Denis Onyango, defender Mosa Lebusa and Ricardo Nascimento for Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final match against Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium.
Jali was injured in the 1-0 Premier Soccer League (PSL) defeat to Baroka FC on August 30, lasting 53 minutes before being substituted complaining of his hamstring and missed his team’s crucial last two league matches.
Onyango played just three matches in the bio-bubble and was absent in their remaining five league games while Lebusa has not been available in their last three games.
Captain Hlompho Kekana has fatigue according to Mosimane while Gaston Sirino is also injured and the possible absence of the players could derail Sundowns’ bid to complete a treble this season.
“We have those niggling injuries, which is normal when you have come from a big battle,” Mosimane told the media.
“Sirino has an injury, we don’t know if he will make it. We rested Hlompho because of all the minutes he played in the bubble. Denis is training well, so hopefully, he is okay. Mosa has not started training. Ricardo has a wrist injury that is giving him a problem.
“AJ [Jali] was training today, he was suffering from that hamstring. He trained yesterday, he trained today [Wednesday]. But the game and the training session’s intensity is not the same but he is getting better now, I don’t know. We will hear from the doctors but he has been training for the last two days. So he has never left the bubble.”
If Sundowns lift the Nedbank Cup, they would have completed a treble after also winning the PSL title as well as the Telkom Knockout.
“The treble is not there until we win the match. The worst thing is to think you have won the ‘Treble’ without playing it,” said Mosimane.
“You have to earn it, and history against Celtic in the cup is not good for us. If you look at it, you can say they need it more than us in terms of what has been happening lately, but football does not go like that.”
It would be an afternoon to cherish for Celtic who, even if they lose, would not be left counting their losses.
A defeat for Celtic will still see them play in next season’s Caf Confederation Cup since Downs already have a spot in the Caf Champions League.
Mosimane says he is keen to see the Free State side competing in Africa.
“I posted on Twitter about two or three weeks ago about this situation, saying how exciting it would be to have Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium full and buzzing with supporters and how exciting it would be to have opponents from Africa to come to that noisy stadium,” said Mosimane.
“It’s possible I would love to be part of that and witness the history of Bloemfontein Celtic. I think it will be history. You never know, that can happen. It will be difficult for people to go to that stadium. I hope by the time we play football will be back to normal and supporters will be there.”