For a long time it looked like even divine intervention wouldn’t help him ever don the jersey of the Mamelodi Sundowns first team, as he was way down the club’s midfield pecking order.
But patience to overcome being sent out on loan, demoted to the reserve team upon his return and even listed among those who would be released, saw him finally earn a league winner’s medal.
That’s why after the win over the University of Pretoria, which confirmed the Brazilians as this season’s PSL champions, Mabunda went down on his knees, raised his arms with his index fingers pointing up as he looked at the Pretoria sky.
It was as if he was saying thanks, with a league title that meant more than the one he won in the 2013-14 season because he was just an extra then. This time he played an important supporting role.
“At Sundowns, whether you play or not, you can only become a better player because of the calibre of players, coaches and the medical staff surrounding you,” Mabunda said.
“They always give you something to hold onto, whether it’s an improvement from you as a player, a person, or even financial. People will talk and say Sundowns this and Sundowns that, but they don’t know the full story from the outside. I am a testament of that. I wasn’t playing, now I am playing but I never complained because it wasn’t my time. The one thing that you’re told is that your day will come.”
Coach Pitso Mosimane has used Mabunda as his preferred central midfield partner for Hlompho Kekana.
That saw him go from playing in the Diski Challenge to looking to make his Caf Confederation Cup debut against Medeama in Ghana tomorrow (kickoff 3pm).
“I believe that we have what it takes to go all the way,” Mabunda said. “It was unfortunate that we were knocked out of the Champions League that we had set our sights on. We can redeem ourselves in the Confederation Cup. We want to go all the way and we have what it takes to do that.”
The Brazilians will take on a Medeama team that has been distracted a bit, with their coach Tom Strand secretly resigning after they lost the first leg 3-1.
Sundowns on the other hand, have found things easier replacing almost anyone, with Mabunda a perfect example of that.
“It’s about taking your opportunity,” Mosimane said. “Mabunda has a very good heart.
“I told him that if you get a small chance, you take it. Look at Wayne (Arendse). He took the chance. So take the chance. He took it.”
Original source: Mabunda on the up at Downs