Mamelodi Sundowns are one trophy short of completing the domestic treble as they prepare to face Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
The Brazilians and Gallants locked horns in the DStv Premiership league encounters in 2021, the first round concluded in a 1-1 draw in Pretoria and a thrashing 4-0 victory for Masandawana at the Peter Mokaba Stadium. The Limpopo based outfit took Bafana Ba Style to a penalty shootout in the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup and snatched a 6-5 victory and eventually went on to win the competition. Downs Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi shared his knowledge of Gallants in a press conference briefing ahead of the final:
“The good thing about games between Sundowns and any team that is coached by Dan-Dan Malesela is that they are teams that are ultra offensive and teams that will not sit back and absorb any pressure. We will be going all out for each other which makes it very interesting for the spectators. The profile of the team has improved from last season – last season we lost a game that again we shouldn’t have lost because when a goalkeeper becomes the man of the match then it summarises what the match looked like, but unfortunately when you don’t take your chances you get punished.”
Coach Manqoba briefly outlined the players that his opponents will be relying on when they meet on Saturday:
“The good part about Dan’s team is that it’s got three very important players that make the team to function, which is Miguel [Timm] whom I believe is really undermined in the league but he’s one of the best central midfielders in the league. They also have [Ndabayithethwa] Ndlondlo whom I also regard very highly, very dynamic, good in counter pressing, good in the passing game and he also scores goals and he’s very important to that team.”
“They also have Celimpilo Ngema whom I also regard very highly, they call him Zizou because he’s a very intelligent player. He’s very nippy, very intelligent and sees the opening that he can exploit in between the lines and creates a lot of goals in that team and he’s a very important player in general. That makes the three of them to be one of the most dynamic midfielders that we have in South Africa. They also have very offensive full backs that can cause us problems if we are not aware, I must also say that the Ivorian [international Sede Junior] Dion, he has done tremendously well more especially in this cup so that makes them to be a team that we must look at very closely because they’ve got some players that can hurt us.”
The Tshwane giants showed dominance in their performance this season and have already snatched the MTN8 and the DStv Premiership trophy in this campaign. Masandawana are one trophy away from completing an unfamiliar domestic treble, however Coach Manqoba and his troops are unsatisfied with their exit from the continental competition that they are chasing:
“To everyone it will look like a very successful season, but the truth of the matter is that us as coaches and the players we know very well that we could’ve had four, but unfortunately we bombed out again in the Champions League quarter finals. But to a certain extent we would be proud that we have really improved our benchmarks from last season where we had one trophy, and now we have two and already that says that we have done better than last season though there’s always that dark cloud around the Champions League which we are all really unhappy about.”
Masandawana were hit by a flu outbreak in Durban that affected a majority of their players in camp after the postponement of their match against Royal AM on Saturday. Coach Manqoba is hoping that the affected players who had flu at the weekend will recover in time for the Cup final.
“At this stage we are not yet 100% sure but already on match day against Royal AM a lot of players were showing signs that they are recovering. Yesterday I met a few who were coming here for a shoot, one or two of them were not looking very good but one hopes that when we get the Doctor’s update we will be able to understand exactly what we have for the weekend.”
Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Kick off is at 18h00, live in SuperSport