Home Sport Royal AM’s upward trend boosts team’s Top 8 hopes

Royal AM’s upward trend boosts team’s Top 8 hopes

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Club head coach John Maduka has handled the club’s struggles in a classy and productive manner, which has seen Royal AM all but escape the possibility of a drop into the second division.

John Maduka, head coach of Royal AM has helped his team to turn their home base, the Harry Gwala Stadium, into a tough place to visit. Picture: Reinhardt Hamman, BackpagePix

Smiso Msomi

Royal AM are on an upward trajectory and have now inserted themselves into the list of teams vying for a top-eight finish at the end of the season.

Thwihli Thwahla had been earmarked as one of the teams destined for a relegation battle at the end of the 2023/24 campaign given their early season form. The Pietermaritzburg-based outfit has also had to juggle various in-club disputes alongside an ongoing transfer ban that has seen them unable to bolster their ranks in the last two windows.

However, club head coach John Maduka has handled the club’s struggles in a classy and productive manner, which has seen Royal AM all but escape the possibility of a drop into the second division.

The 30-point mark has been the ‘promised land’ for many top-flight clubs over the years and with Royal AM sitting on 28 points after their win against Polokwane City on Sunday, it would be hard to believe they would be overtaken or matched by either Richards Bay (15th) or Cape Town Spurs (16th).

Maduka and his men are expected to shift their focus now to a more lofty target in their remaining eight games of the season.

Thwihli Thwahla have lost just one of their last eight games at home in all competitions, winning five and drawing the other two, the kind of form that sees them in 13th spot but two points off eighth-placed Kaizer Chiefs.

They have also kept five clean sheets in that same period while scoring 10 at the other end.

The 53-year-old mentor opened up about his satisfaction at seeing Royal AM turn the Harry Gwala Stadium into a tough place to visit having moved there at the start of the season.

“Yeah it’s a good win and we’ve been good at home. It’s good to see that whenever we’re at home, we’re getting those results,” he said.

“It has been very very difficult away from home so it’s good to see that we are now showing teams that when they come here, they’re really playing away from home.”

Royal AM showed positive signs of getting back to their best again in these games and particularly against Rise and Shine, barring a few blemishes and lapses in concentration.

Maduka broke down what he felt his side had done wrong in the opening stanza, only to come back and score three goals in the second half.

“The credit must go to the boys. We were in control of the game from the beginning but maybe didn’t create many chances. At half- time we spoke about it and second half we improved and we were much better in the final third where we (were) able to create clearer chances,” he explained.

“In the final 15 minutes of the game, when we’re supposed to be managing the game, we made crucial mistakes in critical areas and that’s something we must learn (from) because if we can avoid that then we’d be a much better team.”

Royal AM will have to wait at least another two weeks to continue their quest to move up the table as the Nedbank Cup takes centre stage this week.

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