Sundowns to rest Bafana stars ahead of season

Mamelodi Sundowns have confirmed that their five Bafana Bafana internationals will be given "at least two weeks" off following the Africa Cup of Nations finals, suggesting they could miss to the start of the Absa Premiership season.

Sundowns open their campaign against Tshwane rivals SuperSport United on 3 August, but could have their Bafana quintet back only a little over a week before that.

They will no doubt be lacking some match sharpness, especially midfielder Tiyani Mabunda, who did not feature at all for the national team in Egypt.

Forward Lebohang Maboe played only the first game, while midfielder Hlompo Kekana was used mostly off the bench, as was Sibusiso Vilakazi.

Themba Zwane played the most minutes, even with a suspension for the 1-0 victory over Egypt.

"These five Downs players have been with the national team since 3 June and did not have an adequate pre-season break,” Sundowns said in a statement on Friday. "In managing their load, the club has agreed to give them rest to refresh and recuperate before our opening game of the 2019-20 season, which is scheduled for 3 August."

Sundowns have won the last two Absa Premiership titles and will be seeking to repeat their feat of the late 1990s when they claimed a hat-trick of league wins.