Friday Apr 29, 2022. 16:00
Royal AM will look to rain on Mamelodi Sundowns’ parade when they go head-to-head in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals at Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 7pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Brazilians, who won the MTN 8 at the start of the campaign, successfully defended their DStv Premiership crown with a 0-0 draw against Cape Town City on Wednesday.
A fourth Nedbank Cup title is in their sights, but Thwihli Thwahla are not about to roll over for the Pretoria juggernauts as they eye a first-ever cup final appearance.
John Maduka’s side had by far the tougher route to the semis after facing top-flight rivals City and Swallows in the opening two rounds before beating GladAfrica Championship title contenders University of Pretoria 3-2 in the quarter-finals.
The KZN outfit are also flying high in the league, with a goalless draw against AmaZulu last weekend extending their unbeaten run to nine matches and 12 across all competitions.
Maduka wants to bring success not only to the club, but also for the province, although he is refusing to get carried away and acknowledges they have a very big hurdle to get past in Sundowns.
“It’s important to go all out. It is important to represent this beautiful province. This province deserves good things when it comes to sport,” he said.
“We must make sure that we make the people of KZN very happy. If we win this, it will be good. We can’t talk about lifting a cup before we come to the final so we must take things one stage at a time.
“The pressure is on us for every game. It does not matter who you play against.”
Masandawana saw their African dream come to an end when they were eliminated by Petro de Luanda in the CAF Champions League quarter-finals this past weekend, but a seventh league title in nine years has tempered that disappointment slightly.
Royals will provide the first real test for Downs in the cup competition after they saw off Richards Bay, Mathaithai and Summerfield in the previous three rounds by a combined scoreline of 15-0.
Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has hailed the consistency of their players to achieve what they have this season and he’s hoping they can wrap it up in style by lifting the Nedbank Cup.
“We’ve spoken a lot about trying to improve what we have done last season which we have done very well. We had a better season than what we had last season,” Mokwena said.
“We would have liked to do better in the CAF Champions League but to amass the number of points we have with four games to go and the MTN 8 trophy which is something that eluded us was great.
“We have to go again for the Nedbank Cup and try to focus on that. The players have been incredible, the club has been extremely supportive and we can only build from here.”
The Durban-based club put up a real fight against Sundowns in their first-ever meeting earlier this season, eventually losing 3-2 at Loftus Versfeld.