Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has compared teenage sensation Siyabonga Mabena to the late midfielder Gift Leremi after their 5-1 win over Royal AM in a DStv Premiership clash Tuesday night.

Mokwena handed Mabena his professional debut at the age of 16 years and 24 days when they thrashed Thwihli Thwahla at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

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The Masandawana starlet joined Mokwena’s side in December 2022 from The School of Excellence.

Mabena made a name for himself when he finished the 2022 Region 5 Games tournament; COSAFA U17 Championship which was held in Malawi with nine goals.

To put a cherry on top, he went on to scoop both the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament accolades.

Leremi was an incredible offensive midfielder for Orlando Pirates and later for Sundowns. He started his football career at the youth club Pimville Giants in his home township Soweto.

He was spotted by the Soweto giants back in 1999 playing at a local football tournament. Leremi was brought to the Sea Robbers development academy under the tutelage of Augusto Palacios.

Leremi then left Pirates for the Brazilians back in 2007. Sadly, he met his untimely death in a car crash in Johannesburg the very same year.

“What the late Gift Leremi had is what I see [in Mabena],” Mokwena told the media.

“I see balance left foot, right foot, change of direction at speed difficult to control.

“But this, of course, he [Leremi] was something special. But I think this boy [Mabena] has got also so many characteristics like the late Gift.”

The DStv Premiership defending champions mentor hopes that the comparison will not be “too heavy” for the youngster to carry.

“I hope, as I said, just hope, it’s not a crown that’s too heavy for him to carry, he added.

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Sundowns are currently cruising nicely on the summit of the log standings. The Chloorkop-based outfit accumulated 59 points from 23 games.

Now, they only need four points to win their sixth consecutive league title.


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