/ 23 October 2008

‘Sundowns are back in business’

Mamelodi Sundowns got their season back on track with a well-deserved 3-0 win over injury-hit AmaZulu in an Absa Premiership clash played at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Wednesday night.

Under-fire Sundowns coach Trott Moloto was all smiles after the way his players demolished AmaZulu to earn their biggest win of the season and rocket the club into the top eight with seven points from four matches.

Said Moloto: ”The past few weeks have been testing and challenging for all of us, but now we have finally turned the corner. Sundowns are back in business.”

After losing in the final of the inaugural MTN 8 on a penalty shoot-out to Kaizer Chiefs last month in Durban, the wheels looked to be coming off the expensively assembled Downs squad when Golden Arrows then thumped them 4-2 in a league fixture played at the Super Stadium.

A defeat against AmaZulu could have fuelled speculation that Moloto’s days were numbered. But the 3-0 win was just what the doctor ordered.

Moloto admitted he was under pressure but stressed: ”Every job worth having has pressure. I have no problem coping with it. I know what is at stake and enjoy this type of pressure. I have never felt the pressure ever getting to me.”

Moloto said that the team’s revival was good news for their Telkom Knockout first-round showdown at the Super Stadium against Premiership Rookies bay United on Saturday. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Said Moloto: ”Which coach would not be happy with that sort of display and response after losing our last couple of matches. It was fantastic. The spirit and morale has always been good, but this win over a gutsy side like AmaZulu has helped lift the spirits even higher. We are ready for Bay United. In fact, one of my goals this season is to turn the Super Stadium into a slaughter house for visiting teams.”

He said that the manner in which his side had beaten Usuthu gave him the most pleasure. ”What I liked most was that three of my strikers, Katlego Mphela, Dario Monteiro and Collins Mbesuma all scored. Those goals will also have given those strikers added confidence because they all took their goals superbly. That spells bad news for Bay United.

”If we approach the game like we did against AmaZulu I have no doubt that we will be in the draw for the quarterfinals. This was a thoroughly professional display from Sundowns. It shows we are on the mend and ready to meet new challenges such as Bay United.”

Moloto said that the squad had been hit by injuries to key players such as Benedict Vilakazi, Mbulelo Mabizela, Surprise Moriri and Sibusiso Zuma.

Said Moloto: ”Those are just four players on the mend, they give us a whole new dimension, a new team, so we have a lot to look forward to when they report back fit.”

But it was a depressing night for AmaZulu coach Clive Barker, who was forced to field two untried strikers in the form of veteran Sean Dundee and newcomer Brad Ritson. AmaZulu are going through a crisis with strikers after their three regular forwards, Collins Chabalala, Myron Shongwe and Dumisani Ngwenya, were all injured at the same time.

Said Barker: ”There is nothing else I can do but bite the bullet and hope for the best. Dundee was playing in his first match [in the Premiership] and tried his best along with Ritson. I did not think it was a 3-0 game. But we made a couple of bad mistakes in the second half and were punished.”

Dundee, the former VfB Stuttgart striker who has played most of his career in Germany, struggled in the second half. He turns 38 in December and was rusty.

But Barker is determined to pick up the pieces before Usuthu host Ajax Cape Town in their next league encounter at KwaMashu’s Princes Magogo Stadium next Wednesday afternoon at 3.30pm.

Said Barker: ”We have to keep going and try to get back on to the winning trail. A win is like gold at present and will help us get back onto the road to recovery.” — Sapa