Sundowns take on Royal AM as they continue their quest for domestic treble
With their Champions League disappointment fully behind them, Mamelodi Sundowns continue their quest for a rare domestic treble against Royal AM on Saturday.
The Brazilians, who have already won the MTN8 and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title for the fifth consecutive season, take on Royal AM in a Nedbank Cup semifinal at Chatsworth Stadium in Durban (7pm).
Looking ahead to the match, Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena said they are expecting a tough match from this season’s surprise packages.
“We’ve already started to profile them so that we can help the players with information and we have watched how they play,” he said.
“They have a back three that at this moment is without Ricardo Nascimento. Of course maybe when he’s fully fit he starts at left centre-half instead of (Thato) Lingwati.
“They’ve got (Tshepo) Rikhotso, they’ve got (Samuel) Manganyi the skipper and they form part of the back three. In the midfield they’ve got a lot of options with (Lantshene) Phalane, (Given) Mashikinya but at the moment they have (Siphesihle) Msomi who played their last match against Cape Town City.
“They’ve also have (Kabelo) Mahlasela and everyone knows the qualities that he brings. He brings dynamism and the aggression to play in and around the box, his ability to shoot from outside the box and he becomes a key strength of theirs.
“And then they’ve got wing backs. On the one side you’ve got (Shaun) Mogaila who plays on the right and predominantly they create different dynamisms from that.
“They’ve got a Manganyi and either (Zukile) Mkhize or Mogaila on the right and wingback. And then they’ve got a (Victor) Letswalo who is inverting and possibly joining (Mxolisi) Macuphu upfront and making a two-prong attack and coming from wide areas and the danger is always on the far post in particular when the ball goes to (Thabo) Matlaba’s side.
Mokwena also praised the work that has been done by Royal AM coach John Maduka and his team.
“A very good team that is well coached, that’s got history together. It is not a team that is just Royal AM in a sense that it’s a new team because of the new club.
“But because 90% of the playing personnel comes from Bloemfontein Celtic under the same coach and so there’s longevity, there’s very good cohesion and that is a very big strength of theirs.
“We expect a very difficult match and a match that has a team that has very good players. It’s well coached by John (Maduka) and his technical team have done a fantastic job which is good to see.
“But we also have a very good team, we’ve got very good players, we’ve got lofty ambitions, we want to be in the final. We are not afraid to say that and we are gonna go in Saturday to work to be in the final and try to do our level best that we can to make sure that we are in the final.”
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