SOUTH African football giants Mamelodi Sundowns will cast an eye on local talent when they play Highlanders in an international friendly match at Barbourfields Stadium on January 30.
REPORT BY FORTUNE MBELE SPORTS REPORTER
The former champions will also engage Caps United in Harare on February 1 before winding up their tour two days later with a clash against Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions Dynamos.
The Brazilians have also confirmed they will be bringing a full-strength squad for the three matches as they prepare for the second half of the South African season.
Sundowns technical director Trott Moloto touched down at Joshua Mqabuko International Airport aboard a South African Airways plane delayed by two hours due to bad weather yesterday for a meeting with the Highlanders hierarchy.
Moloto, who was accompanied by club goalkeepers’ coach and analyst Harris Chueu, said the only players who would not be available for the tour were goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands and Katlego Mphela who are part of the Bafana Bafana 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) squad.
“We are bringing a full-strength squad for the games, excluding Mphela and Sandilands who are part of the national team for Afcon,” Moloto said.
Moloto said he knew Zimbabweans would be anxious to watch their players who are in the Brazilians’ squad who include Esrom Nyandoro, Nyasha Mushekwi and Method Mwanjali.
“I know you are eager to watch some of your players like Esrom Nyandoro,” the jovial Moloto said.
The Brazilians’ technical director came short of saying they would also be here to take a look at some Zimbabwean players, but said he would be able to respond to that at a Press conference this morning after meeting the Bosso executive yesterday.
“Of course, but we will talk about that tomorrow (today),” he said.
It’s not the first time the veteran football administrator from the Patrice Motsepe-owned cash-rich Mamelodi Sundowns has been in the country as he was at Barbourfields Stadium to assess striker Simba Sithole when Caps United played Highlanders in a league match at Barbourfields Stadium. Sundowns subsequently acquired Sithole, whom they later released and the striker returned to play for champions Dynamos midway last season. The side are also home to Lionel Mutizwa, who is on loan at Pretoria University.
The first Zimbabwean player at Sundowns was the legendary Peter Ndlovu, who scored 20 goals in 81 appearances between 2004 and 2008 and won the league title in the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 seasons.
Moloto said he was in Bulawayo to discuss business with Highlanders, inspect facilities and hotels before the month-end tour and would be able to get into the finer details of his visit after meeting with the Bosso executive.
“We are here to talk business and we will want to inspect the facilities today (yesterday), the training grounds and the hotels and then we can tell you about our business. But you can call Dube (Peter, the Highlanders chairman), he will be able to tell you how we are going to proceed,” Moloto said.
He was in Harare on Monday where he held discussions with Dynamos and Caps United officials. The clubs agreed to play the friendly matches. Moloto said the friendlies would help build relations with all the clubs in Zimbabwe.
Speaking to NewsDay Sport on Monday, Moloto said they were still interested in Sithole after the player impressed at Dynamos.
“We have been monitoring him since he left Sundowns. We had resolved that we should keep watching him from a distance because we believed he was for the future. He remains a special player to us and we are going to give Dynamos something.
“What we wanted was to bring him back after two seasons because we have two international strikers, Nyasha Mushekwi and Katlego Mphela, and we didn’t have high expectations from him. He is now playing well for Dynamos,” said Moloto.