Masandawana made 12 new signings before the start of the season and then a January addition to bolster their defence
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena has described their triumphant Premier Soccer League campaign as “a very strange season” in which they, however, managed to set a foundation for next term.
The Brazilians made several signings at the beginning of the season to bring their squad to 37 members and Mokwena spoke of the challenges that presented them.
The Masandawana coach says while it was necessary to have such a huge squad in terms of depth, they faced difficulties in trimming it.
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“Covid-19 was a huge one [challenge]. It was a very strange season where we also had to rotate the team a little bit because of Covid-19,” Mokwena told SuperSport TV.
“Then sometimes you lose a little bit of that rhythm and fluidity while trying to maintain the quality of performances inside the amount of the changes we were trying to make.
“Also having a bit of an inflated squad was a major challenge and difficult. We couldn’t trim the squad. You need the numbers, you need the quality and depth.
“But we did exceptionally well to set a good foundation because that is what it was, our first season and hopefully we build on it. It is very important to not only go for the grand slam which is the league title but to fight for the Caf Champions League next season.”
But despite the 12 new acquisitions, Sundowns were at one time hit by a defensive crisis which saw midfielder Mothobi Mvala being deployed as a centre-back.
This led to the January signing of Rushine de Reuck in a squad which also had five tried and tested goalkeepers.
It was their first season without former coach Pitso Mosimane and the responsibility to deliver silverware also fell on Mokwena’s co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi and senior coach Steve Komphela.
While they were knocked out of the Caf Champions League at the quarter-final stage, Sundowns made up by claiming the PSL title.
They won it with three games to go and bagged a historic fourth successive league triumph which they spiced up by beating Cape Town City 3-0 in their final match of the season.
“What a good game to finish the season against a good team. Their substitute Mpho Makola gave them a little bit more but we stabilised and played with the right mentality, the same mentality we have had throughout the season,” added Mokwena.
“So kudos to the fantastic group of players. They have done absolutely incredible things this season. We have changed the way we played a little bit and they bought into the concept.”