Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rhulani Mokwena dismisses talk of Omicron variant in team … ‘it’s just a flu-bug’
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Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns may not have many problems dealing with the opposition on the pitch, but they could come unstuck due to "health problems" within the team.
Although club co-coach Rulani Mokwena dismissed it as just a "flu-bug" there is a strong possibility that it could be the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
The new Covid-19 variant was discovered last week and is the driving force behind the recent spike in infections within South Africa, particularly in the Gauteng region, from a weekly average of around 300 new cases per day to 1,000 last week, and most recently 3,500. On Wednesday, South Africa recorded 8,561 cases. A week earlier, the daily tally was 1,275.
Sundowns travel to the Western Cape this week to face Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday without midfielder Sphelele Mkhulise among others due to this "flu-bug".
"Mkhulise has got health issues. We have a couple of health issues in our team, there is a smallnyana flu-like bug that is going around the team," Mokwena said.
"So a lot of our players that are on that list have been out because of medical complications.
"I think if you understand the importance of privacy in relation to medical prognosis then you will understand why I can't divulge more on the issue, but it is all health-related absences."
The secrecy related to the "health-related absences" only fuels speculation more that it could be Covid-19 related.
Sundowns have further injury concerns with Gift Motupa yet to turn out for the champions, while influential midfielder Rivaldo Coetzee is has only begun his comeback after a month on the sidelines.
“Motupa has a muscular complication with soft tissue injuries. We have to be very careful and because if you rush and do not go through the right sort of rehabilitation process, you risk having this player out for even longer.
"He is an important player for us like all the other players but we have a very strong medical department that is working very hard to make sure that he returns as soon as possible.
"Riva had a contusion, just a muscular complication and he hasn’t trained fully with the team, but we have a couple of situations and had to fast track his return. The medical team has done fantastic work to try and get Riva back," Mokwena explained.
In ironic twist Sundowns announced a new deal with health and nutrition company Herbalife on Thursday morning.