Brazilians have started preparing their bid for a record fifth consecutive PSL title
After signing en masse last season, Mamelodi Sundowns is back in the transfer market and has so far acquired the services of five new players.
On July 9, the day rivals Kaizer Chiefs announced six new arrivals, Confirmed sunsets sign four players in Divine Lunga, Pavol Safranko, Grant Kekana and Neo Maema.
Seven days later, onward Thabiso Kutumela became the last to arrive at Chloorkop.
On July 22, the Premier Soccer League champions confirmed the signing of Sifiso Ngobeni from Bloemfontein Celtic and left-back joined the club from Pretoria on a five-year contract.
Now the focus is on how Masandawana’s new players will help end the Caf Champions League title drought as well as campaign for a fifth consecutive Premier Soccer League crown.
Another five-year contract
Masandawana signed his six new players with five-year contracts.
The latest is utility player Sifiso Ngobeni who joins Sundowns from Bloemfontein Celtic to end speculation about the move.
After a great outing at the 2021 Cosafa Cup tournament, the 24-year-old follows his former Celtic teammate Neo Maema to Chloorkop.
He’s a player who can play as a left-back or a left-back in midfield, so the Brazilians now have enough coverage in those positions.
The defender who kept Salah in his pocket
Last week Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena revealed they had watched left-back Lunga for a few years before bringing him to Pretoria from Golden Arrows in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mokwena said the Zimbabwean was as good as a Masandawana player in 2019 when he impressed them in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt.
In the tournament opener, Lunga received a lot of credit for excluding Liverpool star Mohamed Salah from the game the hosts narrowly won 1-0.
The Sundowns coach describes the performance as having “put Salah in his pocket” which convinced the Tshwane giants to chase his signing.
The 26-year-old left Arrows after three seasons and reunited with Brazilians senior coach Steve Komphela.
His arrival on a five-year contract could force the departure of Tebogo Langerman and will keep another left-back Lyle Lakay on his toes.
Nurkovic’s word sealed deal for Safranko
Earlier this week, Kaizer Chiefs forward Samir Nurkovic has been revealed how Safranko forward join Masandawana.
The two were said to have been in contact and the Amakhosi striker told his former Slovak Super Liga foe PSL was an ideal destination.
The Serbian and Safranko, 26, have both previously played for Dunajska Streda in Slovakia, but at different times.
A Slovakian international has more than 10 caps since 2017, Safranko arrived at Sundowns with a record as a player who has traveled a lot, having played for clubs in Denmark, Scotland and finally Romania.
His last club was Sepsi OSK and it remains to be seen if he will justify his five-year contract by forming a formidable combination with Peter Shalulile from the start.
Trying to avoid being another Maluleka
When George Maluleka signed for Kaizer Chiefs Sundowns last year, the decision was well publicized.
There were so many expectations on the ex-boss, but he continued to deliver below what he was supposed to be capable of and even struggled for playing time.
Kekana’s move to Masandawana from SuperSport United may not have attracted the same hype as Maluleka’s, but it comes to Chloorkop as a well-known player with a lot of PSL experience.
The 28-year-old is versatile and comfortable as a center-back or right-back, which will see him fight for playing time with Thapelo Morena, Ricardo Nascimento, Mosa Lebusa, Rushine De Rock and occasionally Rivaldo Coetzee.
Bangaly Soumahoro and Brian Onyango have their futures on the line following the signing of Kekana who has spent her entire professional career at Tshwane.
He spent nine seasons at SuperSport punctuated by a two-year stint at the University of Pretoria and joined Sundowns on a five-year contract.
Unknown quantity, surprise signature
Maema has been playing PSL football for four seasons but his name is barely mentioned.
He is a player who is leaving Bloemfontein Celtic for the first time in his professional career.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder was the least expected player to come to the Tshwane Giants, but he landed a five-year contract like Sundowns’ other new additions.
He will be on a mission to show why Masandawana’s coaches have settled for a player who is barely mentioned when it comes to South African football.
Perhaps the Sundowns’ decision will help his name become much more familiar in PSL, although it seems difficult to achieve that in a star-studded Masandawana midfielder.
Prove a point to pirates
He’s a player who is seen as a rejection of the Orlando Pirates after spending two and a half tough seasons with the Soweto giants.
Kutumela’s career appeared to be on a downward spiral following a move to Maritzburg United.
After spending two and a half seasons with the squad of choice, the forward thrived last season when he scored 12 league goals, his season record in PSL.
This earned him a five-year contract in Sundowns and the 28-year-old Limpopo-born is now back in Gauteng.
Given another chance with a traditional giant, the question is whether he will prove Pirates wrong that it was a mistake to let him go.
Having made five signings so far, it’s difficult to determine which department or position needs new additions at Sundowns.
But a number of players remain linked to the club.
SuperSport midfielder Sipho Mbule Rumor has it that this is a target for the Sundowns and the club may have to fight bosses who are said to be interested in the Bafana Bafana man.
Another battle reported for the Brazilians in the transfer market concerns the iconic Baroka FC striker. Makgopa proof who would also be a target of the Pirates.