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Mokwena – We’ve Finally Replaced Dolly & Tau

Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena has explained their reasoning behind signing Bloemfontein Celtic left winger Neo Maema.

Maema was one of four signings announced by the DStv Premiership champions, alongside Divine Lunga, Grant Kekana and Slovakian international Pavol Safranko.

Mokwena explains that a lot of work went into recruiting these players, and in Maema’s case the club were looking for an attacking left-footed player, something they have not really had in their squad since the departures of Keagan Dolly and Percy Tau.

“The good thing is that the recruitment also was done in a very thorough manner where we did a lot of analysis, not just with video footage, but also with the assistance of data in trying to measure what we have, from a numbers perspective, and what we do not have and what we need, in relation to our concepts and our playing style, and the ideas that we have of how we want to see the team play,” Mokwena told the club’s media department.

“And therefore, the recruitment was largely played based on the needs, and profiling the right players to be able to help us with regards to that. And each one of their signings was particular about trying to solve certain aspects of our team.

“And I’ll give you a case in point of Neo Maema. Neo Maema fills a very important role in terms of what we needed. Because auditing this squad, we knew that we have of all the wingers that we have in that team, Neo Maema allows us to have a left footed wing, and people will say to me, ja, but that doesn’t sound like a detail that is big enough to be able to go into the market.

“But the reality is when you look at the squad that we had, a lot of our left footed players were players that could develop the game for us. And when I say they’ve developed the game, I mean, we have left footed center halves in Ricardo Nascimento, in Mosa Lebusa, and Lyle Lakay, Aubrey Modiba, that’s just to develop the game. When you move into your consolidation phase, you can’t have left footed influence.

“Because our midfielders are right footed, central midfielders are right footed, our left wingers are right footed in the team, we didn’t even have a single left footed winger. And the last time Sundowns had a left footed winger was Keegan Dolly. And we never really replaced Keegan in that space. And then we then further on went to lose Percy.

“And the scarce resource of a left footed winger with the right profile to play the Sundowns way is something that you don’t find in the market at the moment, and particularly in the local market. So the availability of Neo helped us to to be able to recruit a left footed winner, with age still on his side and enormous potential to develop and become better.

“And the good thing is the boy has a degree in chemistry. And he’s a smart kid that we’ve also done our own background check on him. And that then also covers the other, social and personality traits that we look for, in in recruiting Sundowns players, and he ticks those boxes.”

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