Home Sport ‘This is our boys’ opportunity’ says AmaTuks coach ahead of Sundowns clash

‘This is our boys’ opportunity’ says AmaTuks coach ahead of Sundowns clash

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Though he dreams of beating Sundowns and leading his University of Pretoria team to the final like Steve Barker did back in 2009, coach Tlisane Motaung acknowledges the Herculean task he is facing.

Tlisane Motaung, UP-Tuks Head coach and Rhulani Mokwena, Head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Nedbank Cup Quarter final draw. Picture: Nokwanda Zondi, BackpagePix

Matshelane Mamabolo

THE MAJORITY of the players in the current University of Pretoria team would have been pretty young back in 2009, when AmaTuks reached the final of the country’s premier club knockout competition, then called the Absa Cup.

But as they look to emulate their predecessors, their coach Tlisane Motaung has the players watching tapes of matches from that great run and feeding them stories of players who went on to become big stars – at big clubs and the country as well.

It has to work as motivation, right? The knowledge that your life and career can change for the better through one match?

Bet on them, therefore, to be fired up when they trot out onto the Lucas Moripe Stadium pitch for arguably the biggest match of their fledgling careers in Friday night’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final clash against neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns.

As Motaung repeatedly said during his address at the pre-match media conference, “they don’t come bigger” than the multiple South African champions who have established themselves as continental giants. And what better way for a player to market himself than to shine against some of Africa’s most revered stars?

That Andile Jali became as big a player as he did – turning out for Orlando Pirates, age group national teams, as well as Bafana Bafana, while even making it overseas – was because he grabbed the opportunity presented by the competition that allows lower division sides to mix it with the elite outfits.

“Jali, Aubrey Mngoma and Mthokozisi Yende used this platform to get somewhere and these boys see it as an opportunity to stand up and be counted. We are saying to our players, no one was born with experience because the same Sundowns players who are great players, they were not born that way – they were given an opportunity and they ran with it.

“This is our boys’ opportunity.”

Though he dreams of beating Sundowns and leading AmaTuks to the final like Steve Barker did back in 2009, Motaung acknowledges the Herculean task he is facing. And he is smart enough not to put himself or his team under undue pressure.

“No pressure on me, the technical team or on our players. We told them it is a big opportunity to play against those great players of a great club with a great technical team and a great coach,” said Motaung.

“We are aware … it is going to be difficult. They have not lost a game. We’ve got to compete, learn as much as possible and assess ourselves as a team. Do we have what it takes to compete against the best in the continent?”

The answer would be no. But it was also a ‘no’ back in 2009, when AmaTuks drew Kaizer Chiefs. The discerning football follower would remember only too well how the great Amakhosi were sent packing as the lower division upstarts played beyond themselves sending Kaizer Chiefs packing to register one of the biggest shock results in the competition.

And a good number of those players went on to become household names.

Motaung is not unrealistic to dream that for his players and himself too. Why not?

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