Durban - Embattled Premiership club Golden Arrows can do the improbable by upsetting star-studded Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup this weekend, according to interim coach Shaun Bartlett.
The two meet in Umlazi on Saturday with the hosts having never beaten their visitors in a cup game, while their recent form in the league, where they sit bottom, has seen them win just once in their last 11 games with 10 losses.
“Everybody knows Sundowns is a quality squad and not just team,” Bartlett, a co-caretaker coach alongside Bheka Phakathi, said on Wednesday.
“There are probably 30 quality players there and 90 percent of them are all international players, so we're going to have to make sure that we're on top of our game.
“But nothing is impossible. This is a cup game where there has to be a winner. Our first priority will be to defend as well as we can. The counter attack will probably be the best way to play against them and we'll try to do that.”
Bartlett, whose side beat Polokwane City in the last 32, have won just four matches all season, while that opening round 1-0 win was the first time they had kept a clean sheet in the entire 2013/14 campaign.
“In reality it's a bit of a relief not playing in the league this week,” Bartlett said.
“The Nedbank Cup is a priority as well and we want to stay in it as long as we can.
“My belief is the more games we play, the more confident the players will become. So we will go out there looking for victory.”
They lost their latest league game midweek, going down 1-0 to Moroka Swallows in Dobsonville. The coach said he will look at keeping the core of those players in the starting XI against the Brazilians, currently second in the league, in a bid to build some momentum.
Bartlett and Phakathi are the third and fourth coaches in charge of the club this year following the departures of both Manqoba Mngqithi and Mark Harrison.
“The reason we continue to struggle is down to the finishing in the final third,” Bartlett said, explaining their current conundrum.
“You can't go away from home, create 10 chances and not score one. That's the reason why we're finding ourselves where we are.”
As for their league survival prospects, Bartlett felt they still had every chance of staying in the top tier of South African football next season.
“I've said to the players, there's no use giving up now,” he said.
“We've got nine games to go, yes they're getting less, but teams around us are also losing.
“But there's no use giving up now. It is tough, there's no doubt, but there is hope.”
Arrows needed to continue fighting and picking up points, and winning a game such as this one would boost confidence throughout.
“It will be massive for morale,” Bartlett.