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HomeDStv PremiershipMokwena Offers Honest Insight Into Maema, De Reuck Situation

Mokwena Offers Honest Insight Into Maema, De Reuck Situation

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says competition for places in the team is the main reason for Neo Maema and Rushine De Reuck’s lack of game-time this season.

De Reuck, 28, has played just 368 minutes of football across all competitions due to injuries and the form of Grant Kekana, Mothibi Mvala, Mosa Lebusa, Abdelmounaim Boutouil – while Divine Lunga and Bongani Zungu have now also played in centre-back roles.

Having joined the club in January 2021, he formed an important part of the squad en route to three league titles, the AFL, MTN8 and Nedbank Cup crowns, while Maema, at one point seemed undroppable and probing for a place in the Bafana Bafana squad.

But the former Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder was last in the matchday squad in the league in November with the likes of Matias Esquivel, Sipho Mbule, Lebo Maboe now ahead of him for the midfield role in the squad.

“No they are not doing anything wrong, I think it’s just competition. At a certain point you have to understand the dynamics at the club, we need Rushine, we need Neo and we need them at their best,” Mokwena said when asked about their lack of minutes.

“The injuries have not helped, when they tried to get a bit of momentum they have been injured, various injuries, but they are not injured at the moment, so they’re training and they have to wait, fight for their places in the team.

“They have incredible competition in those positions, the team is winning, so that’s… sometimes people ask me why is Gaston not playing, then when we play Gaston, then everyone asks why Neo Maema not playing – I can’t play all of them, only 11 can play.

“And when this one plays, why is Lebo [Maboe] not playing, why is [Sphelele] Mkhulise not playing, it’s very difficult in a club like this because while we’re giving opportunities to everybody and trying to be honest with how we do it, it’s clear we can never be fair.

“As a coach, you can never be fair, you can only play [11] and you can only make five subs, I don’t try to be fair because I know it’s mission impossible but I try every single day, to be honest, and go home with the ability to sleep well, knowing I’ve given my best to the football club and I’ve given my best to the players, and my honest best to everybody at the club.

“The players give me their best every day, that’s what they have to do. Continue to fight, and continue to work, which is the message I give to everybody. When [Thembinkosi] Lorch was on the bench, everyone asked when is he going to start games, now he’s starting and now it’s when is this one going to play, it’s very difficult, a difficult conundrum that I don’t think any coach can solve.”

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.