Mamelodi Sundowns face a trip to KwaZulu-Natal after being drawn away to Richards Bay FC in the Nedbank Cup last 32 draw on Wednesday afternoon.
Masandawana are set for a tough encounter when they meet Amabhubesi in the thrilling knockout competition for a spot in the next round. Coach Manqoba Mngqithi of Mamelodi Sundowns expressed his thoughts after discovering his opponents, he said:
“You always expect anyone in that space, I think that we are playing against a very competitive team in Richards Bay, they have done very well this season in the league. They are up there, it tells us that we must know that they are giant killers, they’ve done very well in the past against big teams and that becomes very important for us to look at this and give it all the respect that it requires and work very hard to make sure that the team is ready.”
The Brazilians have set new records and trends within the South African Football community, having successfully defended their League title since winning it in 2018 and recently bringing home the MTN8 trophy, the Nedbank Cup is on the list for Masandawana to snatch. Coach Manqoba, who formed part of the technical team that was crowned Champions of the 2019/20 KeYona Cup, declared with conviction that his soldiers will be well prepared for the battle that awaits.
“We were a little bit unfortunate in the draw to get a team that will give us a hard time, but nonetheless we are confident of the team that we have, we believe they’ve got the capacity to upset any team in the league and we are hopeful that we will be able to get the desired results.”
He added: “They are a closed book because we have not seen many of their matches this season, even on tv but we know that they are a team that always causes an upset, a team that is experienced in the Nedbank Cup and over the years they have done very well in that space. We have to tread carefully and make sure that we give them the necessary respect.”
The Nedbank Cup is famously known for its rewarding of a massive big cash prize money and the highly contested CAF Confederations Cup spot. While there are 16 teams from the PSL, eight from GladAfrica Championship and a further eight from the lower leagues of South African football, the defending Champions Coach applauded the tournament for the rich opportunities that the tournament provides.
“It’s a Cup of dreams, a Cup where boys from the rural areas and the villages believe that they’ve also got a chance to be snatched by big teams. They’ve got a chance to upset some big teams, the chance to showcase their talents and be seen by big clubs in the country and because of that motivational factor, it makes every team that you are playing against at this level to be very competitive and very difficult to plan against. You must know that most of them will be playing off the calf, because they are intrinsically motivated to play in this Cup, every team that is in the last 32 believe that they’ve got the chance to go to the next round and all the way to the end.” Said Coach Manqoba.
In recent years the Nedbank Cup trophy has been lifted by the ‘underdogs’, while the big guns have hardly done well. Bafana Ba Style’s Lebohang Maboe – who won the 2017/18 Nedbank Cup player of the tournament, is one of the players that made great impressions during the KeYona tournament and went on to sign for Downs.
“The Cup itself makes it a very interesting contest for every competitor, which makes every player believe they’ve got the chance to achieve something – either they achieve by getting their team through to the next round or they achieve being seen by some of the big teams and get an opportunity. There are many players that came from this the Nedbank Cup, most players that we have in the league have come from that space, so we can not take anything for granted when it comes to this tournament.” Said Coach Manqoba.
“It’s one Cup that is very exciting , [as it] brings a lot of fire and a lot of surprises and therefore you don’t want to be amongst those victims in this Cup.”