Mandela, who reportedly took a sabbatical from national team commitments in order to try and claim a chance to be a Sundowns regular, was given a rare chance to start against Supersport United.
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena has revealed why he handed a rare start to Harambee Stars defender Brian Mandela during their 2-0 win over Supersport United on Wednesday night.
Mandela, who started his first league game of the season certainly gave a performance that will give Mokwena selection headaches in future.
The 29-year old won four of his six attempted areal duels, made five clearances and in possession, registered an 88 percent pass accuracy.
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Mandela has largely been used as a squad player since joining Sundowns, but coach Mokwena has revealed the valuable attribute he possesses that has helped the club win numerous trophies.
Speaking to SuperSport TV, Mokwena explained why he opted to start Mandela as a hybrid right centre back cum right back as the Brazilians soared back to the top of the league.
“Meritocracy. I think a lot of players in the last game when given a chance did very very well, like Mkulise (Sephelele) was excellent, Rushine (De Reuck)was good, Terrence (Mashego) was good,” Mokwena said.
“Brian (Mandela) came in and was very stable, so they deserve a chance to start and then of course, we have to manage the volumes of the games and the mileage, so we are still struggling a bit with the number of games for Mudau, Themba Zwane and Teboho Mokoena especially after the international break.
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“We have had to look at that, so meritocracy plus also squad management.”
The Brazilians, who had not played in the domestic league since late September, were leapfrogged at the head of the table by Cape Town City this past weekend, but goals from Peter Shalulile and Lucas Ribeiro helped them to a ninth successive Premiership win since the start of the season – a new PSL record.
Several reports indicate that Mandela has decided to take a sabbatical from representing Harambee Stars. He aims to work his way back into Rulani Mokwena's considerations to become a regular starter before making his return to action for Kenya.
Mandela has made six appearances for Sundowns this season, and five of them have been off the bench.