© Sydney MahlanguAuthor: Erica MathyeWhen asked for one word to describe the Mamelodi Sundowns Diski Team, Mamelodi-born defender, Malibongwe Khoza said “family”.Of course, having been with the Club since the age of 12, Khoza knows the meaning of family at Mamelodi Sundowns. His eight-year journey has been a rollercoaster, but one with a sweet reward. Khoza has been a certainly influential figure in this season’s Diski Team. His leadership, and undeniable talent have made him an endearing role model for younger Academy players. Khoza’s performances in the DStv Diski Challenge have been undeniably captivating.
Reminiscing on the 2023/24 stellar season, the 20-year-old centre-back who scored three goals, marvelled at the team’s unity. Despite being their first season together, they functioned like seasoned teammates. The credit, he says, goes to the coaches who instilled a remarkable sense of cohesion. This collective spirit, Khoza emphasises, is what propelled them to set the bar high on the pitch.

“I think the team played very well this season. We learned a lot of things from each other. It was our first season together but we played and treated one another like we’ve known each other for years. I think we did very well for a team that was playing together this season for the first time,” the defender said.
© Samuel ShivambuThe sense of family blossomed on and off the pitch, as the season progressed. From offering support to celebrating victories as one, the team’s unity solidified. For Mali, as his teammates affectionately call him, his fellow players transformed from colleagues to brothers – a bond that he cherishes and looks forward to strengthening every day.
“My relationship with my teammates is a great one. I’m always happy to wake up and come to training because I get to see the family that I’ve gained at the Club,” he stated.

Looking back at his targets for the 2023/24 season Mali admitted to having exceeded his expectations in what was his first season in the DStv Diski Challenge.

“Being promoted to the Diski Team felt like a new opportunity and I had to prove to myself to the coaches that I deserve to be here. When setting goals for the season, my target was to play at least 20 games and I knew I needed to work hard every day at training to impress the coaches. As the season progressed, I pushed my target to 30 games because it looked possible. I didn’t expect myself to perform at the level that I did. I can say I had a great and successful season,” Malibongwe declared.
© Phakamisa LensmanMali’s receptiveness to guidance from his mentors helped him flourish into a remarkably skilled player. His outstanding contributions were instrumental in the Diski Team’s second-place finish. The reward for his dedication came in the form of training with the First Team when he joined them for the mid-season camp in Polokwane in January.

“When I was at camp, I got to learn a lot of things from the likes of Rivaldo Coetzee. Being surrounded by such players exposed me to many lessons and skills. After that camp, our first game was against the Golden Arrows Reserves and I was named the Man of the Match. I came back a better and more confident player,” he concluded.

Though his journey within the Mamelodi Sundowns youth system continues, his exceptional talent and dedication point towards a swift ascent. Nurtured in the perfect environment, expect Mali to bridge the gap to the first team sooner rather than later.
The journey within a nurturing environment of the Mamelodi Sundowns youth system continues and he relishes the opportunity to perform better in the upcoming season and for the family to pick up where they left off and win the 2024/25 DStv Diski Challenge as a united bond of brothers.