Sundowns lose Onyango in injury-plagued defence for big clash with Birds

Thamsanqa Gabuza of Supersport United shields ball from Brian Onyango of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on January 16, 2021 in Pretoria.
Thamsanqa Gabuza of Supersport United shields ball from Brian Onyango of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on January 16, 2021 in Pretoria.
Image: BACKPAGEPIX/ GALLO IMAGES/ GAVIN BARKER

Mamelodi Sundowns will be without key defender Brian Onyango when they take on Swallows FC in their eagerly anticipated DStv Premiership clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.

Onyango‚ who has quickly established himself as a key figure in the Brazilians' central defence‚ has been ruled out of the top-of-the-table clash against the Birds with a thigh injury.

Onyango’s unavailability leaves Sundowns thin in their defence as they are already without key centreback in an injury-plagued defence.

“We were dealt a huge blow by losing Brian Onyango with a grade 2 thigh injury and that sets us back a little bit‚” said co-coach Rulani Mokwena.

“Our preparations have been tough without key players but we have enough within the squad. We are a little bit thin at the moment with regards to the defensive line because medically we are without Ricardo Nascimento‚ Lyle Lakay‚ Soumahoro Bangaly‚ Khuliso Mudau and that leaves us very thin.”

Sundowns have equally capable Mosa Lebusa‚ Tebogo Langerman and Thapelo Morena to call on but Mokwena said they have not decided how their defence is going to look like.

“We had to improvise and maybe to solve that situation is to play a back three or with inverted fullbacks or maybe is to play like Swallows with only two at the back. We don’t know how we are going to do this but we will find a way because we have enough in the team to be able to adapt.

“Unfortunately now we have a huge hospital ward but these are problems that affect all the teams in the league. We just have to do the best that we can under the circumstances.”

Mokwena admitted Sundowns are up against a good Swallows‚ a team that will be highly motivated.

“The opposition are good‚ the team has winning momentum and if you win the National First Division and come to the PSL‚ you come with that winning feeling and momentum that you carried through from your campaign in the First Division. You are coming with winning momentum and experience and that is very important‚" he said.

“It is a game that we understand clearly‚ we know that we have to play very well to win‚ we have to work extremely well and be strategic to be able to win

“It is a game that we understand clearly‚ we know that we have to play very well to win‚ we have to work extremely well and be strategic to be able to win. They have got nothing to lose‚ that’s why they are playing with so much freedom and bravery and they make decisions that are brave and courageous and they say the universe always favours the brave.

“They are a team that has a clear profile‚ they have a basic organizational structure of 4-2-3-1 - one that that transforms into a 2-3-4-1 with aggressive and isolated wingers who are quick and are able to get behind and deliver crosses.

“They are strong and stable three in the midfield with inverted fullbacks that take up shadow midfield positions but very comfortable on the ball and they are able to develop play.

“They have centrebacks who are comfortable on the ball too and they develop in the first phase to play and try to get into the final third where they invite you into situations where of you jump in you run the risk of creating spaces for Ruzaigh Gamaldien to be able to punish you.”

PSL this weekend -

Saturday:

  • Mamelodi Sundowns v Swallows FC (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 3pm)
  • Black Leopards v Chippa United (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
  • Maritzburg United v Orlando Pirates (Harry Gwala Stadium‚ 5pm)
  • Baroka FC v AmaZulu (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 5pm)
  • Stellenbosch FC v Kaizer Chiefs (Danie Craven Stadium‚ 5pm)

Sunday:

  • Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila v SuperSport United (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
  • Cape Town City v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Cape Town Stadium‚ 3.30pm)

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