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HomeDStv PremiershipRulani - Mailula Comments Were Misinterpreted

Rulani – Mailula Comments Were Misinterpreted

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says he needed to set the record straight on Cassius Mailula as his comments over his Bafana Bafana call-up were misinterpreted.

Mailula, 21, made his senior South Africa international debut and featured in two cameo appearances against Liberia as Hugo Broos’ side qualified for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

But Mokwena was quoted as saying that he would have preferred if the Sundowns development product, who’s enjoyed a meteoric rise in the first team this season, had been with the U23 squad to help them secure a place at the U23 AFCON and be an integral part of that squad.

Having been asked about Ethiopia international Abubeker Nassir, who is one year older than Mailula but holds much more experience internationally and in his domestic league, having won a Player of the Season and Golden Boot award, Mokwena off ramped the topic.

“This thing about Cassius, maybe I was misinterpreted – because a lot of people were thinking I was saying Cassius is not ready for Bafana,” Mokwena said when asked by iDiski Times about the prospects of Nasir.

“But how can Cassius be ready to play for Sundowns against Al Ahly and that’s me who makes that decision and then I contradict myself and say he’s not ready for Bafana?

“What I said and if you remember, even in the beginning, parts of the season I’ve said this clearly, offensive players get better by being on the pitch, and I would have loved to have seen Cassius on the pitch for 90 minutes against Congo away, rather than 15, 20 minutes for Bafana.

“Intensity, pressure, helping the nation qualify, these are games of consequence, and I would have loved he got those minutes, 90 minutes and carry the national team and be under pressure, that would have helped him to become better and get experience that you spoke of with Nasir.

“How has Nasir improved? By being on the pitch [for club and country]. And that is exactly what I say – the young ones, we give chances, I’ve got a different way, in and out. And it’s only because we have a plan for these things.

“Sometimes society is about instant gratification and one performance for the young ones is ‘ah I have arrived’, so you have to quickly remind them there’s a long way to go and that goes for Mabena, same for Siya, Ntando, Thando – they have to work for these things and be competitive.

“The moment you get into sports you sign up to compete and that’s the first starting point of competition, to compete for your place in the team and that’s the same for all these young ones.”

When stating the question was more about the quality of Nassir and what he could bring to the squad for the remainder of the 2022/23 season, Mokwena stated his answer was something he needed to get out.

“It was a premeditated answer because I wanted to clarify the whole fracas about ‘Cash’ because I speak to Cassius and he says… but I understand what you were saying and everyone else does,” he added.

“Honestly, I’ve said it from the beginning of the season, young players, offensive young players, Percy is a good example, they get better by being on the pitch, you can’t simulate these things.”

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.