MAMELODI Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane is desperate to keep his captain and star defender, Ramahlwe “Rama” Mphahlele.
Speaking yesterday after his victorious squad arrived home from Algeria, where they scored a stunning 2-0 win over ES Setif in their opening Caf Champions League Group B clash at the weekend, Mosimane stressed he wanted his star left-back to stay with the newly crowned Absa Premiership champions.
“Rama is still my captain. I want to keep him,” he said. “But I hear Kaizer Chiefs are prepared to break the bank to sign him. It is up to him (Rama). He must decide what’s best for him.”
Mphahlele did not travel with Downs to Algeria due to the contractual dispute.
Chiefs have made the defender what is believed to be a massive offer but Downs are apparently trying to counter it with an improved deal after Rama’s contract expired last week.
Mosimane had nothing but praise for Mphahlele: “He is a fantastic player and a great professional. He played in all our games when he was not injured. But the contract issue is not in my hands. That’s the business of Sundowns management and his agent.”
He said long negotiations did not help either party and that was why he decided to leave Rama out of the squad that travelled to Algeria while the matter is being resolved.
Mosimane was thrilled with the 2-0 victory over the Algerian champions and said it boosted confidence ahead of their next group clash against Nigeria’s Enyimba. The teams meet at Atteridgeville’s Lucas Moripe Stadium next Wednesday.
Said the coach: “Setif are a big team. They pushed us. But Sundowns came to the party. We scored early and were able to absorb the pressure. We’ve broken the ice with our first group win and we’re confident of beating Enyimba at home. Playing them in Nigeria will be another story. The confidence is high going into Wednesday’s game.”
He praised his makeshift side that were minus seven regulars due to an assortment of reasons, singling out goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands who came in for suspended Denis Onyango: “Sandilands had one of his best games for Sundowns. He was unbelievable.”
Nigerian champs Enyimba lost 1-0 at home to Egypt’s Zamalek in their first group fixture.