Mamelodi Sundowns reached the Nedbank Cup final with a 2-1 win over Royal AM on Saturday.
Masandawana remain on track to secure their second domestic treble having also wrapped up the league title a few days ago and the MTN8 late last year. The Tshwane giants were faced with a resilient Durban based outfit who pressed on for much of the encounter as they searched for victory of their own to reach the final of the KeYona Competition for the first time in their debut season.
“We played the game the right way today, we grafted when we needed to graft, we were good on the ball when we needed to be good on the ball and I think the only people that were not prepared to see Royal AM win a match at Chatsworth Stadium are the Sundowns players and they did a very, very good job.” Said The Brazilians’ Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena after the tight affair.
“It looks like everything was set for Royal AM to win today, and the only people that wanted to stop that from happening was the Sundowns’ players, so kudos to them and congratulations for showing a big fight, and I think tactically it was probably the best performance from the team this season.”
Bafana Ba Style are set to battle for the Nedbank Cup against newcomers in the DStv Premiership Marumo Gallants from Limpopo at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium at the end of May. Coach Rulani stated, however, that the team’s focus is on the upcoming league games that await:
“We will think about Marumo Gallants as we come, both teams will be [playing] away, but of course because of the draw we are the home team. It is a very good side, well coached, we watched their game yesterday and it’s gonna be a very difficult final but first things first is Stellies, Chiefs and Royal AM and then we move and focus on the final.”
“Mamelodi Sundowns is a club that expects us to win every single match, for now we focus on the next four games which are left in the league and we try to make sure that we win all the matches that are remaining and hopefully that momentum carries us out.”
The Brazilians were forced to make a change before the half time break as Divine Lunga replaced an injured Brian Onyango while Slovak international striker Pavol Safranko also succumbed to an injury after scoring Masandawana’s winning goal in the second half. Coach Rulani highlighted the quality of players that are available to carry out the duties of their wounded mates.
“We don’t have an injury crisis because Divine will play there, and if push comes to shove [Coach] Steve Komphela will get ready because that’s a position he played also earlier in his career.”
“Huge credit to Pavol [Safranko] for the work that he did in leading the line and the pressing. We wanted him to link up the play, which is something that he will get better at, he’s improving but again I think [it was a] complete team performance with a lot of commitment, a lot of dedication.”
Coach Rulani extended his appraisals to the Yellow Nation who have been showing up at the stadiums to support Masandawana despite being knocked out of the CAF Champions League quarter finals:
“The game of football is a game where you either win, lose or draw and we’ve got to also accept sometimes that we’ve got no God given right to win every single match, but over and above that we want to thank them for their support and for their love even in difficult moments they continued to support us. Even when we lost, some of those fans turned out at the stadium for the previous match against Cape Town City, you can even see the turn out today and we appreciate them for loving us in good and bad times.”
“This was the first Championship for so many of our players, there’s so many of our players that won their first league title this season with us and then let alone speaking about winning the Champions League, some of our players when we won the MTN8 final you saw how difficult it was for our squad to get over the line because we don’t have that type of experience and that experience you can only get by playing these games of consequence and trying to accumulate the experience as you go. Next season we will be stronger, we will have more experience and for sure we will probably have a better Champions League campaign.”