Mamelodi Sundowns’ talismanic duo of Themba Zwane and Peter Shalulile were among 12 players missing the CAF Champions League Group B encounter against Coton Sport of Cameroon.
Despite going into the match depleted without a long list of their player, Sundowns emerged 3-1 victors, thanks to a Cassius Mailula brace and Thapelo Morena backheel.
Rulani Mokwena had to do without D. Onyango, the likes of Gaston Sirino, Rushine De Reuck, Haashim Domingo, Sipho Mbule, Abubeker Nasir and Erwin Saavedra, among others.
Their next CAF Champions League is away to Egyptian giants Al Ahly and presents their biggest Group stage test thus far.
WHEN IS THEMBA ZWANE LIKELY TO RETURN?
The 33-year-old attacker suffered his injury during Mamelodi Sundowns’s 1-0 DStv Premiership win over Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Saturday, 4 February 2023.
He missed the 3-2 win over Richards Bay in the Nedbank Cup and the 1-0 victory over Sudan’s Al Hilal.
“[With] Mshishi, we are waiting for the diagnosis, the scans and the doctors [but] it’s not as serious as it looks. He’s an important player for us, [he’s] the team’s captain.
“Even with Denis [Onyango] on the pitch, he still keeps the armband. [He is] important for the team because he gives so much confidence. Hopefully, he’s back sooner rather than later,” Masandawana’s head coach Rulani Mokwena recently told the club’s website.
Bafana Bafana midfielder, Zwane, is nursing a groin injury which could keep him out of action for another three to four weeks.
Unless he recovers earlier than anticipated, ‘Mshishi’ could miss both legs of the encounter against Ahly.
Zwane has been the driving force behind Sundowns’ record-breaking season so far, and if his absence is prolonged, the club could find itself thin on inspiration and creativity in attacking areas.
Zwane has played 23 matches in all competitions, scoring twice and providing two assists this season.
UPDATE ON PETER SHALULILE
Namibian marksman Peter Shalulile was also missing from Sundowns’ lineup in Cameroon with a minor knee injury. The Brave Warriors captain’s return looks closer than Zwane’s as he continues to train with the team.
The reigning Footballer of the Season could feature against Ahly unless Mokwena decides to tread cautiously with him.
Shalulile was on target against Richards Bay recently, but missed the tie against Al Hilal. 21-year-old Mailula has stepped up in his absence and has scored regularly.