Three days after overcoming Soweto giants Orlando Pirates away from home, Masandawana are gearing up for another fierce battle in the MTN8 semi-finals at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Following a 1-1 draw in Kwa-Zulu Natal last month, victory for either side will see them book their place in the final.
Speaking ahead of the game, Downs coach Manqoba Mngqithi admits that their opponents pose a threat in their quest to lift the MTN8 Cup. “At this stage we can’t be arrogant because I don’t think Arrows has performed badly. From the beginning of this season they have given it their biggest shot and have not lost too many matches in the process and that says they are still a very dangerous team, they’ve always been dangerous against us in cup matches. We have to give them the necessary respect and put maximum focus on the game itself.” said Coach Manqoba.
The Brazilians coach continued to applaud his opponent’s for their good form in the league and detailed his opponent’s strength: “We are playing against a very organized team and a team that scores goals. [Arrows is] a team that has both their strikers on form, [Dumisani] Gumede is still scoring goals, [Nduduzo] Sibiya is beginning to show his magic because he is one player that I believe could give Arrows so much. Pule Mmodi is also doing well, their central midfield of [Nqobeko] Dlamini, [Velemseni] Ndwandwe and [Simo] Mbhele looks very exciting.”
“Their center backs are looking very good and their full backs always propel [them forward], so we know we are playing against a very organized team but we have a responsibility at Sundowns to try and take the team to the final. With their transitions they can be very dangerous, their counter pressing can also destabilize the flow of the game, but we believe that we’ve got a team that’s capable of playing this match and going through if everything favours us.”
Coach Manqoba also added that their visitors present an independent squad that can take a different shape:
“[Golden Arrows] is very unpredictable because even now when I gave the line up that I gave, Arrows can change at any given time. Instead of [Nduduzo] Sibiya you can find [Siboniso] Conco, instead of [Knox] Mutizwa, [Michael] Gumede is always most likely to be in that place, so they have a lot of very interesting players who are very dynamic and present different scenarios. Also the fact that they are playing with a lot of youngsters that is where probably most of their unpredictability comes from.”
Masandawana are the only team with four wins out of the five games played in the new season of the DStv Premiership. With the team gaining consistency since the return from the international break, Coach Manqoba alluded to the prospect of making changes ahead of the cup tie.
“We don’t want to temper much with the winning team. You always want to try and build from there because questions will be asked when you change a team that has done well, but probably one or two places where players had knocks and maybe stiff muscles we can can consider that possibility [of changing players] but at this stage we are not looking at coming up with a totally different team.”
Bafana Ba Style have enjoyed the pleasures of winning games without conceding goals and this will be another encounter where they are looking to solidify their defense.
“We would have to do our best to make sure that we keep a clean sheet, that is the starting point, and probably try to score a goal or two to make sure that we confirm our position in the final but we know it’s not going to be easy.” concluded coach Manqoba.
Mamelodi Sundowns play against Lamontville Golden Arrows on Tuesday, 28 September in the MTN8 semi-final second leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Kick off is at 18h00, and the game will be live on SuperSport Channel 202.