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Cape Town City keen to clinch continental spot as Sundowns brace for Royal AM assault

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Runaway log-leaders Sundowns will resume their defence of the Premiership title with a clash against Royal AM, as Cape Town City are hoping to win their fourth match in a row.

Eric Tinkler, head coach of Cape Town City talks to his players during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 training session for Cape Town City at Cape Town Stadium on 13 March 2023. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Cape Town – Cape Town City are currently the only DStv Premiership team with three league wins on the trot and they hope to continue in that run when they host Marumo Gallants in a elite division encounter in Green Point tonight.

Not even the mighty Mamelodi Sundowns can presently claim three consecutive victories after they were held to a 1-1 stalemate by a spirited Stellenbosch side two weeks ago.

This rich vein of form has sent City’s hopes of a continental slot next season soaring sky-high and all that the side must do today is to defeat the weakest Premiership team to edge closer to that prize. Gallants are rock-bottom and are headed for relegation, unless they can produce a dramatic turnaround in fortunes.

Overall, City have won six of their last 10 league games since the World Cup break, to climb up to fifth in the standings. Eric Tinkler’s side beat Maritzburg United 2-1 at the Harry Gwala Stadium last time out to record three league wins on the spin for the first time this season.

However, Tinkler must do without Thato Mokeke for the visit of Gallants after the defensive midfielder picked up his fourth booking of the campaign against the Team of Choice, to rule him out through suspension.

“We said it when we lost (Brice) Ambina and when we lost (Thami) Mkhize, we’ve lost a few guys. We’ve got quite a few guys that have been on three yellows but we don’t think that (about losing players),” Tinkler said.

“We think, play our strongest team even though Thato is out.

“We believe in the squad that we have and everybody must step up. Last time it was the young boy Patrick Fisher.

“Keanu (Cupido) went off and Fisher came in and you’ve got to be brave enough to make those decisions.

“There were periods when he struggled a bit but I saw some positives.”

Meanwhile, runaway log-leaders Sundowns will resume their defence of the Premiership title with a clash against Royal AM at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday night, also at 7.30pm.

Sundowns stretched their unbeaten run to 18 matches across all competitions when they thrashed Al Ahly 5-2 in a CAF Champions League clash at Loftus on Saturday. Sundowns are 17 points clear of second-placed SuperSport United and need just eight points from their last eight games to clinch the league title.

Royal AM are also in good form and extended their unbeaten run to six matches across all competitions when they defeated Lamontville Golden Arrows 3-1 in extra-time in the Nedbank Cup last-16 round match on Saturday.

Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena said Royal AM have improved since the return of coach John Maduka.

“Now we have to face a very motivated Royal AM side with a new coach in John Maduka,” said Mokwena.

“After the Royal AM match we immediately leave the next day to travel. We are off to another hostile environment (Sudan) with heat.

“We have to put 90 minutes into the legs and that’s not going to be easy because now the expectations have been raised. We played well and the boys showed character, especially going to extra-time,” Mokwena added.

“We needed real men to show that they’re strong and the boys did exactly that and I am proud of them.”

Royal AM are seventh on the Premiership standings, three points behind fifth-placed Cape Town City as the battle to finish in the top eight intensifies with eight matches left.

@Herman_Gibbs

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