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Pitso wary of Maritzburg threat

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“I don’t think that we are favourites, but I think that Maritzburg has an edge. They’ve been winning more games than us, and they’ve been doing well”

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is wary of the threat posed by Maritzburg United ahead of the two teams’ clash in the final of the Telkom Knockout at Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow.

The Brazilians, who are the back-to-back PSL champions, marched to the final of the knockout Cup competition after defeating Bloemfontein Celtic in the last 16, Chippa United in the quarter-finals and Golden Arrows in the semi-finals.

However, it took determination and hard work for Maritzburg to reach their second final in three seasons, having been runners-up in the Nedbank Cup final two seasons ago.

The Team of Choice defeated 2017/18 Telkom Knockout champions Wits in the last 16, 2019 MTN8 finalists Highlands Park and league leaders Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals.

But when Sundowns and Maritzburg go toe-to-toe for honours of the second Cup competition of the season at the 2010 World Cup venue, the odds could very well favour the Pretoria club to walk away as victors after the final whistle.

Mosimane, however, has been around long enough to know that there is no form book heading into a final, saying it’s only the best team on the day that gets the ultimate reward.

“I don’t think that we are favourites, but I think that Maritzburg has an edge. They’ve been winning more games than us, and they’ve been doing well,” Mosimane said.

‘But when you talk about the profiling of the club, of course we are favourites in that space. But (league) football is about your form. The Cup is not a league, because you can draw and lose there.

“But come Cup day, you win then you are in the final. It has nothing to do with the league form, whoever is good, pitches on the day, got a little bit of luck then wins the Cup.”

Mosimane further stressed that members of the football fraternity shouldn’t look at the gap between the two teams on the league standings and start drawing conclusions.

Sure, Sundowns are third on the log with 24 points, seven ahead of eighth-placed Maritzburg, who have done fairly well in their own right after surviving relegation last season.

“They are strong. And you’ve got to respect what they have. They’ve been winning because they won away to AmaZulu. So, the worst thing you can do is look at (the) position of Maritzburg and look at us and say, ‘we’ve always got an upper hand,’” Mosimane said.

“Yes, we do, but that’s not going to help us.”

While Mosimane is wary of the threat posed by Maritzburg, he is delighted that he will have an almost fully-fit squad to choose from for tomorrow’s match after Themba Zwane made his return from injury during Sundowns’ 3-1 come-from-behind league win against Stellenbosch FC on Wednesday, while Gaston Sirino is available again after serving a suspension.

Zwane and Sirino are Mosimane’s talismen who normally make the team tick up front with their creative movement on and off the ball, and that’s why their unavailability has seen Sundowns having a significant slump in form as they are 10 points adrift of log leaders Chiefs in the league.