The controversy of whether Sipho Mbule and Andile Jali arrived at practice under the influence of alcohol has been addressed by Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena.
Sundowns lost two points at Stellenbosch FC on Sunday, ending Masandawana’s 15-match winning streak.
After lengthy trips to Egypt and Cameroon, as well as a 3-1 victory over Marumo Gallants in Bloemfontein on Thursday, Mokwena’s team entered the match.
Although they had been in excellent form building up to the game on Sunday, there was a lot of controversy surrounding his team due to claims made in the local media that Jali and Mbule had been drinking when they arrived at practice.
After talking about it after Thursday’s game, Mokwena reiterated his position that it is his responsibility to safeguard the team and the players.
“So what I said in the last press conference, I said, if you’re looking for negatives about my players, you won’t find [it from me],” he said, when directly quizzed about the rumours around Jali and Mbule, with the latter coming on as a late sub at Stellies, while Jali wasn’t part of the squad.
“I have two responsibilities: The first responsibility I have for the club, to protect Mamelodi Sundowns. Number one.
“Number two, I have to protect my players. I have that, and those are two very important responsibilities.
“What I will say, and I will say this in a coach-less situation. Before, I’m a coach, I’m a human being. And before they are players, they are human beings.
“And so we have to be very, very careful sometimes not to go in the side where we affect the person only because we are targeting the professional. It’s very important.
“And I don’t want to go into too much detail into it, because at the end of the day, things that happened in the club, are for the football club to deal with. And there are so many internal things that happen at every single Football Club.
“And it becomes very important for the football club to protect not just the professionals, including myself, but also the human being. Because like in corporates, and like in every other job, no one’s perfect.
“And so that imperfection must come with also the acceptance that people will have my back. And people will have in my moments where I act as a human being where I have more weaknesses than strengths, I have more mistakes than good moments.
“In those moments, I have to know and that’s where I am, that I am there for the players. But it will never be at the expense of the football club, no chance.”
Sundowns will host historical champions Al Ahly in Pretoria on Saturday of next week when they return to CAF Champions League action.