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Defence key to Sundowns Cup hopes

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‘We are up against a very good team’ – Manqoba Mngqithi.

Manqoba Mngqithi, Coach of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2022 Nedbank Cup last 32 game between Richards Bay and Mamelodi Sundowns at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on 04 February 2022. Picture: Gerhard Duraan, BackpagePix

MAMELODI Sundowns are favourites to win the Nedbank Cup tomorrow and claim a domestic treble. However, Masandawana coach Manqoba Mngqithi is concerned about his team’s defending.

Sundowns have uncharacteristically conceded five goals in their last two games. This included a 3-0 demolition at the hands of Stellenbosch FC before they followed that up with an entertaining 3-2 win over Royal AM.

“The goals that we are conceding are concerning, especially those which we conceded against Stellenbosch. They came from situations which we did envisage. These were situations which we had profiled when we analysed them. Royal AM do tend to score high.

“I do think that we could have been better in terms of defending against them. We felt bad because we do not like to concede,” said Mngqithi.

In lieu of his team not living up to their dominating standards in recent games, Mngqithi believes that his side will be in for a tough game against Gallants at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

“This is going to be one of the most difficult matches. When doing video analysis this morning, we realised that the most important thing we need to do is (to) have respect for the game and opponents. We must understand that the game of football does not owe us anything.

“We are up against a very good team,” said Mngqithi.

Mngqithi is aware that Gallants will be underdogs. However, in Dan Malesela, they have a coach who knows how to win the Nedbank Cup, having famously done so with then GladAfrica Championship side TS Galaxy in 2019. The bulk of the players in the Gallants first team were also in the Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila side that won the tournament in 2021.

Mngqithi understands that Gallants have a lot of players who can come close to matching his men.

“They have players who are capable of playing for Sundowns. I have experienced most of them and the fierce battle in this game will be in the midfield. Miguel Timm is important for them there and has a full range of passes. Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo and Celimpilo Ngema are very instrumental in the space between the midfield and defence. They are a decent and interesting team to watch,” said Mngqithi.

Mngqithi believes that the most important quality that his side will need to win the clash is motivation.

“The intrinsic motivation is the most important thing. The hunger to win the game is more important than a belief that you should win the game to get bonuses. Anxiety can be the biggest enemy of precision. If their motivation is too high, they might not focus on details and that could give us an advantage,” said Mngqithi.

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