Mamelodi Sundowns have been rocked by incidents of two of their big-name stars, Andile Jali and Sipho Mbule, allegedly arriving for training at their base at Chloorkop under the influence of alcohol.
Two reliable sources who did not want to be named told TimesLIVE the incidents were separate.
The sources said Bafana Bafana international Mbule, 24, who had a long history of misdemeanours at former club SuperSport United, was sent home from a training session “about two weeks ago” because he arrived apparently inebriated.
The midfielder last played in Sundowns’ 3-2 Nedbank Cup last-32 win against Richards Bay FC at Loftus Stadium on February 7, where he was man of the match. His disappearance from the team sheet since sparked speculation he had a disciplinary issue.
Last week Wednesday, before the team’s departure for their 2-2 Caf Champions League group stage draw against Al Ahly in Cairo on Saturday night, 32-year-old former Bafana midfield star Jali reported at Chloorkop allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
One source said he believed Jali, who was a star player at Downs in 2021-22 but battling for game time this season, is frustrated the club does not want to release him from the remaining months of his contract so he can join Kaizer Chiefs, who have shown interest in signing him.
In August 2020, during the lockdown for Covid-19, Jali was at loggerheads with former Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane as he reported for their training camp at Royal Marang Hotel in Rustenburg under the influence of alcohol.
Downs have ruled the roost in South African domestic football winning five successive DStv Premiership titles, and the foundation of that dominance was laid on high levels of discipline from their players.
“There have been incidents of ill-discipline recently and this has the potential to disrupt the dressing room,” one of the sources said.
“Players behave in an unusual manner for different reasons but ill-discipline is something that is not tolerated at this level.”
Runaway Premiership leaders Sundowns are matches away from clinching their sixth championship on the trot but the change room turmoil has the potential to derail their Nedbank Cup and Champions League campaigns if not dealt with properly.
Downs coach Rulani Mokwena was asked at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of their Nedbank Cup last-16 game against Marumo Gallants in Bloemfontein on Thursday about the mysterious absence of Mbule from the Brazilians’ line-up in recent weeks.
“Unfortunately Sipho is suspended for the next match so he’s not in contention. But one game at a time and we’ll see how we can go with Sipho leading up to Stellenbosch [Downs’ league away match on Sunday],” he responded.
Attempts since Wednesday afternoon to obtain comment from Sundowns’ media department were not successful at the time of publishing.
Downs executive: legal and commercial Yogesh Singh could not be reached via numerous attempts to call him on his cellphone, a WhatsApp message and an SMS.
Attempts to reach Mike Makaab — the intermediary, or agent, who represents both players — on his cellphone and via a WhatsApp message were also not successful.
The club’s or agent’s responses will be added here if they arrive after publishing.