Mamelodi Sundowns have been shocked by allegations that two of its marquee players, Andile Jali and Sipho Mbule, arrived for training at their Chloorkop headquarters under the influence of alcohol.
The incidents were separate, according to two reputable sources who did not want to be identified.
According to the reports, Mbule, 24, a Bafana Bafana international with a long history of misdemeanours at former club SuperSport United, was sent home from a training session “around two weeks ago” because he arrived seemingly inebriated.
The midfielder got man of the match in Sundowns’ 3-2 Nedbank Cup last-32 triumph over Richards Bay FC on February 7 at Loftus Stadium. His absence on the team sheet has since fueled speculation that he has a disciplinary issue.
Jali, 32, reported at Chloorkop last week Wednesday, before the team’s departure for their 2-2 Caf Champions League group stage tie against Al Ahly in Cairo on Saturday night, allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
According to one source, Jali, who was a star player at Downs in 2021-22 but has struggled for game time this season, is angry that the club will not release him from the remaining months of his contract so that he can join Kaizer Chiefs, who have expressed interest in signing him.
During the Covid-19 shutdown in August 2020, Jali clashed with former Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane after he arrived for their training camp at the Royal Marang Hotel in Rustenburg under the influence of alcohol.
Downs has ruled the roost in South African domestic football, winning five consecutive DStv Premiership titles, and their players’ discipline has been the foundation of their domination.
“There have been incidents of ill-discipline recently and this has the potential to disrupt the dressing room,” one of the sources said.
“Players behave in an unusual manner for different reasons but ill-discipline is something that is not tolerated at this level.”
Premiership leaders by a landslip Sundowns are two games away from clinching their sixth consecutive championship, but the upheaval in the dressing room has the potential to ruin their Nedbank Cup and Champions League campaigns if not dealt with appropriately.
Downs coach Rulani Mokwena was queried about Mbule’s strange absence from the Brazilians’ line-up in recent weeks during a press conference on Tuesday ahead of their Nedbank Cup last-16 encounter against Marumo Gallants in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
“Unfortunately Sipho is suspended for the next match so he’s not in contention. But one game at a time and we’ll see how we can go with Sipho leading up to Stellenbosch [Downs’ league away match on Sunday],” he responded.