Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has revealed why he anticipates a difficult game when they take on Golden Arrows in their MTN8 semi-final first-leg clash on Saturday.
The Brazilians will face the 2009 champions at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban but Mokwena is worried they will come up against a side that is very good in counter-attacking while remaining tight at the back.
“Traditionally, it’s not easy to prepare for Golden [Arrows] because they have had a distinctive way of playing,” Mokwena said as quoted by Sowetan Live.
“I think it’s synonymous with how they are known as ‘Abafana Bes’thende’ – they play with a little bit of exuberance and play a little bit off the cuff.Article continues below
“Even when they try to have some organisational forms, they still try to maintain the flair and the expressive abilities of their players, and sometimes that’s where it can be a little difficult to prepare.
“They’ve got a very good team and a very good coach, with a good assistant. They counter-press very well and their fullbacks are very important. They average about 18 crosses into the box, so it’s a team where we know what to expect, but controlling that is the most difficult thing in football.”
On the team’s performance so far this season, Mokwena said: “Going into the Kaizer [Chiefs] match [a penalties win in the MTN8 quarters] we anticipated it would take us five or six games before we hit top gear and our performances so far have shown us that we were correct.
“We are trying to work in a very systematic way and trying to be a bit scientific about how we go about the season because our form guide informed us that after
a good start we had a dip in form towards the end of the season [in 2020-21]. To try to find a little bit more consistency we altered the way we are working.”
On injuries in the team, Mokwena explained: “We had a rest day [on Wednesday] as we travelled from PE, and the players who needed medical attention received it. Regarding the players who were left behind, as of yet we still have not received information about their readiness. They will be assessed by our medical department.”
Despite dominating the top-flight over the past five seasons, Sundowns last won the Top 8 trophy in 2007 but since it changed its name to MTN8, they have twice finished as runners-up