Sundowns look to seal domestic treble

Sundowns look to seal domestic treble
Manqoba Mnqgithi, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2022 Nedbank Cup Mamelodi Sundowns Press Conference at the Chloorkop, Chloorkop on the 24 May 2022 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday May 27, 2022. 11:00

Mamelodi Sundowns will look to seal a domestic treble of trophies when they face Marumo Gallants in the final of the Nedbank Cup, set for the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday 28 May 2022. Kick-off is at 18:00 CAT.

Sundowns have taken the MTN8 and DStv Premiership titles in 2021-22, with this match giving them a chance to complete a clean sweep of trophies in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) and further underline a dominance which has seen them secure five successive league championships.

The Brazilians brushed aside Richards Bay, Mathaithai FC and Summerfield Dynamos in the early rounds of the Nedbank Cup, before coming up against a tougher challenge in the semifinals when they defeated Royal AM 2-1.

Sundowns wrapped up their league campaign this past Monday with a 3-2 away win over the same Royal AM – claiming victory in the rescheduled match despite their squad being hit by a bout of flu.

“The football players, they have been magnificent this season, what they have achieved on the pitch has been incredible,” said co-coach Rulani Mokwena.

“If I talk to you about how many times we’ve changed systems, how many build-up schemes we’ve got, how many high press schemes, it’s only a reflection of the quality and the intellectual capacity of our players and we’re very proud of them and just honoured to be their coaches.”

Gallants, meanwhile, are technically the defending champions of the Nedbank Cup, with this team having won the tournament in 2021 as Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila, before renaming their club ahead of the current season.

The Limpopo side has ousted Santos, Orlando Pirates, Baroka FC and Tshakhuma (the second-tier offshoot of their former identity) to reach a second successive final.

However, they will be concerned at a lack of present form, with a 2-2 draw at home to Sekhukhune United last weekend stretching their winless run to four matches (and nine when only league matches are taken into account).

Nonetheless, coach Dan Malesela – who led TS Galaxy to a famous giant-killing win over Kaizer Chiefs in the final of the 2019 Nedbank Cup and will be hoping for a similar upset – is bullish about aiming for silverware.

Kind of a good and bad season, good that we started very well … even after the break we did well,” Malesela explained.

“And then we started drawing a lot of matches and losing some, which is bad. The good again is that we got ourselves into the final of the Nedbank Cup, so that’s the kind of the season we have and I’m hoping that we will conclude it with a good [by winning the Cup].”

In head-to-head stats, this will be the first cup meeting of Sundowns and Gallants (in strict terms, though Tshakhuma put ‘Downs out of last year’s Nedbank Cup), but the clubs have clashed twice this season in the Premiership.

The Brazilians claimed a 4-0 away win in their meeting at Peter Mokaba in November last year, while the return game at Loftus Versfeld in December ended in a 1-1 draw.

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