Mamelodi Sundowns have successfully dominated the DStv Premiership, wrapping up their fifth successive title last month. Bafana Ba Style have collected 62 points in their 28 games played this season and clinched their 12th Premier Soccer League title with four games still to play. Downs Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena gave an analysis of his next opponents Stellenbosch FC that await to battle for three points on Saturday.
“We’ve analysed their last three games, they play either a back three or a back four with [Mogamad] De Goede and Zitha [Macheke]. Zitha’s got a very interesting role in that team, a similar role that Robyn Johannes had. [Sibongiseni] Mthethwa is very strong for them and he is very important as a destroyer, a 6 that is predominantly there to break down the counter attacks of the opposition and stop transitions. [Jayden] Adams is very good in the pockets, he’s got speed, he dribbles very well – in fact Stellenbosch are second in the league for highest number of dribbles, they average 6 or 7 per game.”
‘They’ve got possibilities to hurt you in possession, they’ve got possibilities to even hurt you when you have the ball because they can counterattack very effectively. And then they’ve got different types of attacks, an attack that is generated through builds where they can play from the back. You saw it against [Kaizer] Chiefs that even when they played with a back three they still were able to morefit it into a back four and initiate buildups, and when they had a back four against SuperSport you saw how easy sometimes it was for them to progress and find their full backs. A good side, very competitive, very difficult to play against and to beat.”
Masandawana are also one game away from completing a clean sweep of domestic trophies with a game that awaits at the end of the month when they meet Marumo Gallants in the final of the Nedbank Cup. The Tshwane giants have already won the MTN8 and will lift the DStv Premiership title on the 21st of May away from home. Coach Rulani shared his thoughts on celebrating this achievement in their opponent’s territory:
“It doesn’t give you the same sort of feeling as celebrating it at home, but sometimes to celebrate it outside of your home probably gives a better feeling and a feeling of having really worked hard and deserved the podium in front of [other] people. Of Course the encouragement is to get the Sundowns supporters to come in to be part of the party which also supports that spirit of football where you create a football atmosphere where there are opposition fans.”
“The reality is if we were to host the game at home, how many Royal AM supporters would come? Not a lot, because maybe they don’t have a reason to travel to Pretoria, but Sundowns supporters have a reason to travel to Durban. Chatsworth is very convenient for the people of Durban so now you have a possibility of having a very good, fantastic football match on the pitch which is created by good ambience, because the chances of getting more people into the stadium is greater. There’s a lot of ways to look at it, but I think as a big club we are okay with the situation.”
The Brazilians are expected to play in front of a great number of spectators this weekend when they welcome Stellenbosch to one of their home grounds in what is decorated as the “Heroes homecoming” encounter. The Yellow Nation have been treated to various types of celebrations from the reigning Champions, the recent being “The Calabash Take Over” when they travelled to the FNB Stadium to face Soweto rivals, Kaizer Chiefs. Coach Rulani expressed appreciation towards the supporters of the club and credited them for their loyalty.
“First it’s to thank them for all the love, the support in good and bad moments. They’ve been there for us, singing and chanting even after games. Using the TUKS stadium comes as a very, very good opportunity for us to create an ambiance that will reflect the type of season that we’ve had, a celebratory sort of atmosphere because of its compactness and its size.”
“We hope and encourage the fans to come in their numbers to give us support. The tickets are R40 and ours is just to encourage them to allow our heroes to spend the last home game with them, spend it in a very good atmosphere and a special ambience the way Mamelodi Sundowns fans are able to create it, only they can create that ambience.”
Mamelodi Sundowns clash with Stellenbosch FC in the DStv Premiership on Saturday at the TUKS Stadium. Kickoff is at 15H00, live on SuperSport.