Mamelodi Sundowns will not put their players under pressure to wrap up the league title when they face city rivals SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby on Wednesday afternoon.
The Pretoria club will win the DStv Premiership title with three matches to spare if they are able to secure maximum points against their Pretoria neighbours in a match that has become one of the most highly anticipated on the calendar. A victory would also complete the unprecedented feat of winning four league titles in a row.
Incidentally‚ the two city rivals are the only teams in the premiership that have won three league titles in a row since the inception of the Premier Soccer League in 1996. But Sundowns have an opportunity to edge in front and are within touching distance of setting a new record.
Sundowns coach, Manqoba Mngqithi said they have put the disappointment of failing to progress to the semifinals of the Champions League at the weekend behind them. The Brazilians were dumped out of the continental event by former coach Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly, and they have turned their attention to their domestic ambitions.
“We are not putting a lot of pressure on the players to view this game as the title decider. Our focus is on the next assignment against SuperSport. You could see from training that the intensity was good and everybody is looking forward to give a fight. Sundowns does not like to lose‚ or [fail to win] two matches in a row‚ so we have a responsibility to try to come back as soon as possible,” said Mngqithi.
“For us it is always important to focus on our processes and according to our processes‚ this is the second match of the last cycle of five games‚ and we have won the first one. All our attention is on making sure we achieve our targets in our last four matches. It just happens that SuperSport can decide the [destiny of the] championship. The intention is to try to get the number of points we have targeted. We are short of nine points in this cycle and it would be nice if we get 12. We want the players to give the same energy because it is very important to try to win every match and achieve our targets,” he added.
Mngqithi said they will be up against a rejuvenated United side that recently won their first match in 11 outings following a poor run that included 10 draws and three losses.
“They may not be in a favourable position [United are sixth on the standings] but the truth is that they are coming back again‚ and they are showing they are a very decent team.
“Bradley Grobler is still the top goalscorer [in the league]‚ Sipho Mbule has had a wonderful season‚ Ghampani Lungu is proving to be very handy when it comes to counterattacks and of late they have decided to play Kudakwashe Mahachi and Keenan Phillips as fullbacks.
“Mahachi and Phillips are very quick and they are always looking to go up‚ and SuperSport have scored a lot of goals from crosses or shots outside the box. Mbule has got a shot from outside the box‚ Grobler has a shot from outside the box‚ Teboho Mokoena had a shot from outside the box and Jamie Webber also had a shot from outside the box.
“They have always scored tremendous goals and we know we are not playing pushovers. Their captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams has come back to action and they are looking like a team intent on launching a potential comeback to finish the season very strongly.”