July 5, 2022

Watenga is still a Sundowns’ player – Rulani

By Brian Aheebwa
Goalkeeper Ismail Watenga | Courtesy photo

Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena has confirmed that Uganda Cranes goalkeeper Ismail Watenga is still a Sundowns player.

In 2020, Watenga was training with Mamelodi, and it was reported that he signed a three-year contract but he later signed a 19-month contract with Chippa United.

“We like Watenga so much and we have tried to invest in him. We sent him out to Chippa to get more playing time,” Rulani told Football256.

“He started reasonably well but unfortunately, he did not get much playing time towards the end but I believe that was due to the change of coaches at Chippa which disturbed his momentum a little bit.”

“Watenga is a very good goalkeeper with very good attributes, his agility is excellent, his speed and shot-stopping are very good and maybe he only needs to improve when it comes to build-up play,” he added.

Denis Onyango (L) and Ismail Watenga (R) after a meeting between Sundowns and Chippa United in the PSL | Courtesy photo

Rulani wants to see Wantenga following in the footsteps of Denis Onyango: “Watenga’s desire should be to follow in Onyango’s footsteps because he has got a huge potential and hopefully he can be at the club and play.”

“As far as Onyango is concerned it took him time to stamp his position at Mamelodi. We all remember that he went to Mpumalanga Black Aces and Bidvest Wits on loan before he came back and became Sundowns’ number one goalkeeper.”

“He came back and he has been very successful and maybe Watenga’s success lies in the journey of Onyango and he will need to pick up a little bit more from what Onyango went through,” Rulani noted.

Watenga was tipped to become Onyango’s successor in the Uganda Crane’s colours when the latter retired but that has not been realized yet.

Despite being of part the Cranes 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, the 27-year-old was more of a bench warmer as Charles Lukwago played 90% of the games.

The former Vipers SC goal-minder was not part of the Cranes team at the start of their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they lost to Algeria and drew with Niger.

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