Sundowns’s Rhulani Mokwena warns of ‘cup final’ against AmaZulu

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena says his side will have to give their “best performance” to beat high-flying AmaZulu in their top-of-the-table DStv Premiership clash in Durban on Wednesday.

Sundowns must overcome the disappointment of being knocked out of the Nedbank Cup by TTM at the semifinal stage at the weekend, and victory against Usuthu would be another major step forward in their bid for a fourth league title in a row.A win would move them potentially nine points clear with two games in hand, all but ending the challenge of the chasing pack.

“It is a game that has a profile of upmost importance for us,” Mokwena said. “As we have said before, all these games for us at this moment are cup finals and we have to approach them as such.

“It hasn’t been easy to prepare, particularly after a difficult and unfortunate result against TTM in the Nedbank Cup, but we must dust ourselves off and show mental resolve, dig deep and produce a good performance.

Mokwena has praised the work of AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy, who has the side on a club record six-game winning run in the DStv Premiership.

“When two very good teams meet you have no chance if you don’t play well, so we must play very well and give ourselves the chance to win the match against a very good team with a very good technical staff. They also have very good players, so that is why the results have been very good.

“They are a well-coached side, because there is a clear identity and the system is clear. The build-up structure is clear. The high pressing instincts are clear. The final third preparation in terms of how they build the attack is also clear.

“The influence of the midfield triangle that they have with [Sphesihle] Maduna or [Makhehlene] Makhaula or [Siyethemba] Sithebe … Xola Mlambo, you have possibilities of very good players who influence both phases of the game.

“And then the speed upfront and the intelligence of offensive players such as [Luvuyo] Memela, [Lehlohonolo] Majoro with his experience and positional sense, [Siphelele] Mthembu, Talent Chawapiwa and now even [Thabo] Qalinge has come into that space and improved the options that they have.

“So it is going to be interesting to see, but we must be able to give our best performance.”

AmaZulu are seeking a first league win over Sundowns in Durban since 1992.

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