Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has given insight into the challenges going into the CAF Champions League immediately after international matches were played.
The 2016 champions open their continental club competition campaign with a clash away from home against Congolese outfit Maniema Union on Sunday, just a few days after some of their players return from international duty.
With the likes of Peter Shalulile, Divine Lunga, Rushine de Reuck, Mothobi Mvala and Thabiso Kutumela travelling on the continent with their respective national teams, the challenge is to get them fresh ahead of the club's fixture this weekend, while factoring in the distance they will be covering in planes and on buses.
"The good thing is that the club is made of people who have been in this space for quite some time. Of course, reality is that it's a difficult challenge. It's a challenge of merging two very difficult programmes - the club program and the international program. And when you are populated by so many international stars, it becomes even more difficult," Mokwena told media after he and co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi were presented with the DStv Premiership Coach of the Month award for August and September.
"But Sundowns has always had international stars. We have always had players leaving every international break to represent their individual countries. Sundowns have experience with personnel like Peter Ndlovu and Yogesh Singh who work extensively with regards to getting itineraries from different football associations and then we try to merge those, not just from a logistical pperspective, but also in relation to the training dynamics because you have to look at the load of the players over the last 10 days or so. First, it's always important to get the players back injury free and then to make sure we get the players in a fresher state."