Johannesburg – League strugglers Mamelodi Sundowns should be given credit for their cup form this season, according to under-fire coach Johan Neeskens, who lashed out at the media on Wednesday for criticising the performance of his side.
After going down 2-0 against SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup final in May, Sundowns reached the semi-finals of the MTN8 in August.
They face Bloemfontein Celtic in the Telkom Knockout final in Durban on Saturday as the Brazilians go in search of their first cup title in seven years.
“You guys can give a little credit to this club and this team,” Neeskens told the media on Wednesday.
“It's been seven months that we've twice reached a final and it's a long time ago that such happens at the club.
“Not everything is that negative that I have reached in the couple of months, so you have to see also the positive things. Not many teams reach a final twice in the space of a few months.”
Neeskens hit out at the media for criticising coaches at under-performing Premier Soccer League clubs, claiming the South African press was too harsh on managers.
“Sometimes you write very early (in the season) this team is amazing, this team is playing so fantastic,” he said.
“About four weeks ago you guys said Moroka Swalllows played the best soccer and the coach was fantastic, and now all of a sudden because of four or five not-so-great results, you guys say this is unbelievable Äthe players are getting too old and the coach should be sacked.
“It is sometimes like the weather – if the sun shines it is good, and if it's a little rainy we turn totally around.
“Then I think you don't have respect because I don't know how many of you guys played football or kicked a ball.
“I'm a human being and my players sometimes make mistakes.”
Sundowns beat Celtic 1-0 in a league clash on Sunday, to lift themselves off the bottom rung of the Premiership ladder, and Neeskens insisted he was feeling no pressure in their efforts to win the knockout trophy.
“I dont have nerves. It's a normal game,” he said.
“It's a final, so you're excited, but there is no more pressure than any other game.
“I think everyone should be excited to play a final and everyone should be giving 100 percent.” – Sapa