Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena believes their much-anticipated clash with Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final is ‘the final before the final’.
The Brazilians are set to welcome the Buccaneers to Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Thursday when they square off for a place in the semi-finals.
Sundowns and Pirates will have a chance to join the likes of Pretoria Callies, Chippa United and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in the last four of the competition.
‘With all due respect to the remaining teams in the competitions, yes, it is a final before the final, two great sides,’ Mokwena told his club’s official website.
‘Orlando Pirates are strong opponents, an extremely strong opponent with great players. You can see that they are a side with good spirits, good mobility, in particular, their attack.
‘They have tactical flexibility in their mobility of how they operate and their last five games have shown that they are a team that can play in a particular way, especially in the Caf Confederation Cup.’
The last time the two sides met Masandawana walked away with all three points in the DStv Premiership through a solitary goal from Brian Onyango.
‘They are very dominant on the ball, home and away, and that has seen a huge improvement in their ball possession stats,’ he added.
‘They are an extremely dynamic team, with fewer probabilities of starting play from the back, and have a lot of complications from the left-hand side.
‘Like I said, they are a strong opponent and have strong tactical communication in the sense that there are a lot of players who have been together for two to three seasons. The cohesion within the group is very good.’
Mokwena also stressed the importance of having all his players available for the tie after playing four games in the month of April.
‘We need everybody in order to go through this program. The next eleven days we play about four games and we have come from a situation where in seven days we played three games.
‘With that we have covered the whole country, we have been to the extreme north [against TTM] and now we just came back from East London [Chippa United]. We have enough numbers and quality in those numbers to go through the program,’ concluded Mokwena.
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