The South American influence at Sundowns

The South American influence at Sundowns
Marcelo Allende of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 match between Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns at the Dobsonville Stadium, Soweto on the 15 April 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Wednesday Apr 17, 2024. 14:01

With the likes of Marcelo Allende and Matias Esquivel shining at Mamelodi Sundowns, could their new South American nucleus propel the Brazilians to domination on the African continent?

Conducive Conditions

The PSL has proved to be a happy hunting ground for South American players in recent years, with Sundowns being at the forefront of identifying top talents from countries such as Brazil and Uruguay.

Fellow South African teams like Stellenbosch, Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs have now followed suit as seen with signings such as Junior Mendieta, Darwin Gonzalez and Edson Castillo. In fact, it can be said that these South American talents need little time to adjust to the pace of the PSL and swiftly became integral players to their respective clubs and coaches.

Sundowns & The Pitso Mosimane Blueprint

The former Downs coach made full use of the club’s scouting infrastructure and also, made it his aim to recruit top South American stars that suited his philosophy. The likes of Gaston Sirino, Jose Ali Meza, Ricardo Nascimento and Leonardo Castro were among the first crop of South American players to feature under Mosimane’s leadership, which ultimately yielded instant success.

Since then, the club has continued to spread their scouting networks in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

South American Heartbeat – The Numbers Don’t Lie

Coach Rulani Mokwena has turned to Chilean midfielder Marcelo Allende as his preferred dictator in midfield. The 25-year-old featured more than any other outfield player this season (35) and formed a telepathic on-field chemistry with the likes of Mattias Esquivel, Junior Mendieta and Lucas Ribeiro Costa, who were signed for the 2023/24 campaign.

Costa has been Mokwena’s go-to man in attack this season and is currently the club’s top scorer with 15 goals in 30 games across the board. Also, both Allende and Costa provided the most assists for the club so far this season, with five efforts to their names respectively.

Simply put, Mokwena’s fluid football model has allowed the aforementioned South American players to shine as they continue to produce the goods on a consistent level.

The Edge In African Football?

While Sundowns dominated South African football in recent years, the Chloorkop giants have not won the CAF Champions League since 2016. However, their African Football league triumph earlier this season provided their fans with a glimmer of hope this time around.

Again, Costa, Allende and Sirino were heavily involved in Mokwena’s plans in the African Football League tournament as they showcased their capabilities against some of Africa’s toughest football clubs.

In conclusion, Mokwena’s trust in his South American core produced much success both locally and continentally. Now tipped to win the CAF Champions League this season, Downs fans can be sure that players such as Allende and Sirino will be at the forefront of their charge to glory on the African continent.

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