Mamelodi Sundowns coach, Manqoba Mngqithi is confident that Themba Zwane will be able to play in their first leg quarterfinal Caf Champions League match against record winners Al Ahly in Cairo on Saturday.
Sundowns will travel to the Al Salam Stadium for a match against Egypt, coahed by Sundowns’ former coach Pitso Mosimane. They are determined to get a positive result ahead of the second leg in the nation’s capital in Atteridgeville the following Saturday.
There were concerns after the influential Zwane‚ who has scored 12 goals in all competitions from an attacking midfield position‚ was hauled off inside the opening 10 minutes of their 2-0 win over Maritzburg United at Loftus last week.
The concerns would have grown bigger when Zwane missed their 1-0 DStv Premiership win over TS Galaxy in Nelspruit on Sunday‚ but Mngqithi allayed those fears and said the team doctor has given the green light for the 31-year-old star to feature against Ahly this coming Saturday.
“We are hopeful from the doctors and it looks like he will be able to play the next match in Egypt‚ Zwane’s early substitution against Maritzburg was just a precautionary move as the midfielder’s knock on the leg was not a major one,” Mngqithi said after the win over Galaxy at the Mbombela Stadium.
“We are hopeful that everything goes according to plan but it never really looked very serious. We just had to be a little bit cautious and make sure that we didn’t aggravate it‚ and that’s why we took him out early. It was never really a tear but probably a strain that could have easily resulted in a tear had he continued with the match [against Maritzburg]. But we took him out,” he added.
Mngqithi also said that the doctor promised that within a week or 10 days Zwane will be able to play and that the team had enough days until its next match, which is the one against Ahly on Saturday.
Zwane is a vital cog in the Sundowns attack and his inclusion in the match day squad against Ahly will boost the team’s chances of a positive result in Cairo. Strikers Peter Shalulile and Gift Motupa are proving to be a menacing combination for Sundowns and with Zwane also in the team‚ the 2016 champions could stun the Egyptian giants.
“That combination is giving us a lot of hope and direction in our play because it gives us stability up top. We know we have got a proper number nine [Motupa] and there is a surprise factor of Peter coming in late into areas that are dangerous. Not many people can detect his [Peter Shalulile] movements. We are hopeful that he still going to score some goals to help us,” said Mngqithi.