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KHULISO MUDAU THE COMPLETE RIGHT-BACK Author: Danny SehularoPrior to his arrival at Mamelodi Sundowns three seasons ago, Khuliso Mudau was one of the most underrated players in the PSL. This was because his potential was often overshadowed by the rate of red cards he'd pick up in a season, something his former coach, Dylan Kerr, alluded to when the two were working together at Black Leopards.The move to join Sundowns in October 2020 made all the difference. These days, Sailor – as he's affectionaly known – is rated the best right-back in the country and possibly one of the best in the continent. In fact, Sundowns captain Themba 'Mshishi' Zwane is among those who suggested that his teammate is one of the finest, if not the best.Mudau, however, remains modest and instead placed emphasis on improving his game. The 28-year-old defender from Musina in Limpopo was almost lost for words at the compliments. "Players like Mshishi, with his vast experience in the game, can say that [I am the best] and I appreciate that. But I think I can improve here and there. Being rated amongst the best on the continent is something else,"Mudau pointed out.
No matter Mudau's modesty, he has transformed into a modern-day full-back. He's far from the player who used to attract unwanted statistics like frequent red cards. "I think the problem with me is that I hate losing. So, when I play, I give everything I have. Obviously, at Leopards, we were losing some games, and I took out my frustrations on other players."
However, Mudau hardly recalled when last he was dismissed during a game. Instead, his ability to climb up and down on the right side of the field, as well as his quick recovery whenever the team loses possession of the ball, is what the fans are accustomed to these days. It explains why he is a big fan of Dani Alves, the former Brazil and FC Barcelona right-back who was also known for his offensive playing style. Khuliso Mudau and his team mates celebrate winning the inaugural AFLLike Alves, Mudau has redefined the role of a right-back. Sailor has a knack for goals, too, and he has scored some important goals for the Brazilians in the domestic and continental leagues, as well as for Bafana Bafana. As much as things are going well for him, it was not plain sailing for Mudau on his way to the top.
The soft-spoken defender has travelled a long road, and at some point, he thought he'd never get a chance to play in the PSL, let alone don the yellow Sundowns jersey.
In pursuit of his dream to become a fully-fledged professional player, Mudau came through the lower ranks with the likes of Magesi FC and Black Leopards. He was also once part of the Swallows Academy, and guess who else? The Sundowns development structures. "I was here before. It was a long journey for me. Obviously, I wanted to come back and play here at Mamelodi Sundowns. I am very happy that I am back and trying to help the team achieve big things. My parents gave me the support not to give up, and I also had to make them proud." Mudau has indeed made his parents and the Yellow Nation proud. Since he picked up his first winners' medal with Sundowns the very season he joined, the 2020/21 season, it has been much like a gold rush for Mudau. He has won three league titles. Add the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup trophies to his collection and the significant individual award when Sailor was voted the PSL best defender of the season for the 2022/23 campaign.
Just recently, Mudau played a leading role when Sundowns were crowned the champions of the inaugural African Football League in November. He is already looking forward to entering the new year in true champion style and gun for more silverware. "If we can win the league [DStv Premiership], the CAF Champions League and the Nedbank Cup, that will be fulfilling" Bafana Bafana reward Mudau's work ethic and general contribution to the game is clear to see, and it was difficult for the national team selectors to ignore. He has pushed his way into Coach Hugo Broos' starting eleven at Bafana Bafana. The player is now on the cusp of playing in his maiden Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). "It feels good to represent the country," says Mudau, who scored his first goal in national team colours during a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Benin at home in November. "AFCON is a big tournament that I would like to play in."
Mudau, who is playing in his maiden AFCON has played against top strikers in the continent.
He had wished to go head-to-head with Egypt and Liverpool striker Mohamed “Mo” Salah.
“He’s one of the best players in Africa and it will be great for me to mark him.”
Mudau has come face to face with Sundowns team-mate, striker Peter Shalulile of Namibia and Abde Ezzalzouli of Morocco.
Bafana were in the same group as Shalulile’s Namibia and knocked out Morocco in the group stages. Interesting things about Sailor:1. Mudau plays in Puma Ultra Ultimate boots. "I take two pairs to matches – one with normal studs and one with different studs to adapt on the wet surface," he says.2. While he doesn't have any family ties with Sundowns legends Daniel 'Mambush' Mudau and Johannes 'Bricks' Mudau, Sailor is keen to preserve the Mudau legacy at the Club. "I need to make sure that I carry the surname very well."3. Sailor's favourite pre-match meal is pasta, mince, and vegetables. 4. With the Sundowns team forever on the road, Mudau always takes his gadgets with him to camps. Mainly his MacBook and ear pods for entertainment.5. Playing regular CAF Champions League football has exposed Sailor to many countries, but Morocco remains his favourite.