Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi says they’ll not hold back against Orlando Pirates this afternoon, banking on their quality to prevail.
Sundowns and Pirates have had decent starts to the season. Sundowns lead the pack with 19 points, while Pirates are second with 14.
One of the two teams will not reach the final of the MTN8, which has a home and away semi-final format.
Sundowns head into these clashes, beginning with the first leg at Orlando Stadium this afternoon, as favourites, given that they are still the champions. They bagged a treble last term.
“We go to a match to win the match. That’s the advantage that we have as a team. We always put our first foot forward,” Mngqithi said this week.
“We are not going there to sit back and watch them play in front of us. We are not going to Orlando to try and get a draw and then win the second leg.
“We are too experienced in the space of two matches. And we know what’s likely going to happen. So, we’ll give it our best shot (before the second leg).”
“If we bring our A-game and we match the hunger of wanting to win the match at all cost, I think our quality will prevail in the end,” Mngqithi added.
Mngqithi knows it won’t be like taking candy from a baby though. The Sea Robbers are no longer the sluggish team they were in the previous seasons.
The Buccaneers have a new coach in Jose Riveiro who has already impressed Mngqithi, having been in charge for nine matches since his arrival at the club.
“I must say that I am very impressed with how Pirates play this season to be honest. There are a lot of positives from their team as well,” Mngqithi said.
“But I see a continuation of a lot of things that they’ve been doing well in the past, which is probably why the team has done fairly well this season as well.”
Riveiro is not the only man that will give Sundowns something to worry about. Pirates signed quality players, including two surprises on deadline day.
Kermit Erasmus terminated his stay with Sundowns and returned to Pirates, while Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo joined the club from Marumo Gallants.
The duo is expected to be unleashed against the Brazilians, with Erasmus backed to haunt his former club as well. Does that worry Sundowns?
“I don’t think there’ll be much that will change from Pirates in terms of the shape. It will just depend on their approach with an extra cap,” Mngqithi said.
“It’s either they play with two strikers and one 10 – if they bring in Kermit. But I don’t think that they’ll go that route as that might open their midfield.
“Or they’ll go the route of two 10s and Ndlondlo fits well in that space. If they choose Kermit or (Zakhele) Lepasa then they will have different dimensions.”