'Downs need to be ruthless'
Mamelodi Sundowns need to be callous if they want to beat Maritzburg United when the teams meet in Pietermaritzburg.
The teams will be competing at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday for semi-final spots in Telkom Knockout.
“There are no easy games in the cup.
This is going to be the toughest match we have faced this season.
United have everything to play for, especially [because] they are at home,” The Brazilians’ skipper Esrom Nyandoro said on Tuesday
Downs are the favourites, but only on paper, Nyandoro warned.
“We will have to roll up our sleeves and be prepared to fight. I don’t care how we do it, as long as we get in the semi-finals,” he said.
“Forget about playing pretty football. Getting the job done and winning is what is important, not how we play,” Nyandoro added.
Fellow midfielder Matthew Pattison said the team needed to become more ruthless.
“We have done well this season so far by being on top of the league, but our job is to win trophies… We missed out on the MTN8 Cup and a club as big as Sundowns cannot afford to slip up in the Knockout. We have targeted the Knockout and the Premiership as trophies that are our priorities this season,” he said.
Pattison expected a contest similar to the one the big-spending Downs faced on Friday in Cape Town when they edged out rookies Vasco da Gama 1-0 to stay at the top of the Absa Premiership.
“We sat back too much in the second half against Vasco and cannot afford to do that when we play Maritzburg… This is a cup game and we need to kill off the game as quick as possible. One goal may not be enough. We have to be ruthless by scoring more goals and not sit on a 1-0 lead like we did against Vasco. This is one cup we have to win,” the midfielder said.
Booth adds he’s baying for blood
Tough-as-teak central defender Matthew Booth is also keen to bring home some silverware.
Speaking after a training session in blazing heat at the Chloorkop base, near Tembisa, on Tuesday, Booth said confidence was building but Downs could not afford to be complacent against the unheralded United.
“We have been fairly consistent, but this could be a tricky game for us because they have couple of former Sundowns players in their side and they will be out to prove a point when they line up against us,” he said.
Maritzburg have five former Sundowns players in their squad. They are defenders Elias Ngwep and Fabian McCarthy, as well as midfielders Musa Nyatama, Kurt Lentjies, and striker Diyo Sibisi.
“It will not be easy. We watched highlights of United’s recent win over Bloemfontein Celtic and it is not easy to beat Celtic at home,” he said.
Booth said the fighting spirit in the camp had improved this season.
The defender said playing away would test Downs.
“United will be up for the challenge playing at home and it would be fatal to underestimate them. They have proven to be a tough compact unit this season and we will have to be at our best on Sunday,” he said.
Downs will be minus leading goal scorer Katlego Mphela and defender Innocent Mdledle, who are both sidelined with groin injuries.
Booth was full of praise for new Zimbabwean striker Nyasha Mushekwi, who replaced the injured Mphela against Vasco.
Mushekwi scored the only goal against Vasco and, with Mphela still sidelined, is expected to lead the attack with Mabhuti Khenyeza.
“Mushekwi looks the part. He is a talented striker and is gaining in confidence with every game. He has taken his chance when it was given to him,” said Booth.