Ahead of his arrival in South Africa this week Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena has hailed the signing of Bolivian Erwin Saavedra, saying he is not only a big signing for the club, but also for the DStv Premiership.
The Bolivian international, who starred at the Copa America, is set to arrive in South Africa in the next 24 hours, after all logistics were sorted.
Speaking after their 2-0 win over Chippa United on Monday, Mokwena says after arriving late on Tuesday, Saavedra will be initiated into the team this week, and he is excited to welcome the 25-year-old.
The Sundowns coach says bringing in foreign players of the standard of Saavedra, who has 39 caps for his country, and was in action against Chile last week, is good for the DStv Premiership.
“Ja, we’re excited, excited by the profile of a very good player that comes into a very good team already,” Mokwena said on Monday.
“And we’re looking forward to inducting him into the processes in the work that we do. Saavedra, as you all know, played for Bolivia, in the qualifiers on Tuesday.
“He then had to work with regards to getting all the necessary travel documents, including COVID tests. He left Bolivia, went to Peru, and came to the Netherlands. So you’re talking about plus minus more than 20 hours in transit and in flight and traveling to South Africa, he arrives very, very late hours tomorrow.
“So when we resume for training on Wednesday, he would have just arrived and only have put his feet down on the South African land but we’re excited.
“Hopefully he’ll join us by Thursday, we’ll induct him into the club, we’ll work with regards to all the other medical procedures that need to be done and familiarise him with our training, the squad and the processes that happen with regards to our preparation, and then we will take it from there.”
Mokwena insisted that signing a player of Saavedra’s calibre sends a great signal for the DStv Premiership and also thanked the club’s bosses for securing the deal, while many others were sleeping.
“Hopefully we can incorporate him into the matchday squad as quickly as possible, but we are very, very patient and excited,” he added.
“And this is not just big for Mamelodi Sundowns, but it’s big for South African football because if you can bring this type of profile of player to the South African game, the bigger beneficiaries are the South African public and this can only augur well for South African football in the future of the football of this country.
“So once again, we’d like to thank the management of this club for supporting us with regards to the recruitment, and the window that we’ve just had.
“A lot of work, extensive work, a lot of sleepless nights, you must understand it, trying to negotiate for Saavedra and the time difference between South Africa and Bolivia means a lot of our staff, senior management, Bra Stan, Yogesh, these were people that had to spend a lot of sleepless nights and early hours when most of us were sleeping, in trying to make sure that they recruit and conclude this deal.
“So we’d like to thank them for their efforts. And that’s why this club is as big as it is, and it succeeds. Because it’s never been, and it will never be a one man show.
“The contributions that happen behind the scenes are immense and go a long way to support our endeavours.
“So it would be extremely incorrect or unfair of me not to mention the hard work when speaking about the recruitment of Saavedra.”