Johannesburg – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens says he is hopeful his key players will have fully recovered from their injuries in time for Saturday's Telkom Knockout final in Durban.
Sundowns picked up their second league win of the season on Sunday beating Bloemfontein Celtic – the Brazilians' opponents in Saturday's Knockout final – to climb off the bottom rung of the Premiership ladder.
“It's difficult for every team to get maximum points at this stage of the league,” Neeskens said after their 1-0 victory.
“It's even more difficult for us because of our position in the league and minor because of a few injuries. Hopefully we will perform well in the final and win the trophy.”
Both clubs opted to field fringe players and rest several of their regular and injured starters.
“On our side, we saw this as a great opportunity for other players to showcase what they can offer and the boys did a good job,” Neeskens added.
“We did not want to take any risks with injured players. Both teams were affected as we have played six games before the final.”
A charging Richard Henyekane stole the lead for Sundowns in the 36th minute when he slipped the ball past Patrick Tignyemb in a one-on-one tussle with the keeper.
Celtic boss Clinton Larsen, meanwhile, said he was encouraged by his side's performance despite the loss and said he was looking forward to meeting the Brazilians for a second time on the weekend.
“I'm disappointed with the result but not the performance of the players,” Larsen said.
“Defensively we did well against a top side like Sundowns. We just did not take our chances and that is something we have to learn to do in every game.
Larsen said he thought his side had a good chance against Sundowns to win the cup especially as it was being played at a neutral venue.
“I believe it's going to be a good spectacle and we are going to fight to lift the cup,” said Larsen. – Sapa