Maritzburg will test Jingles’ rest strategy
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Considering the depth in the team, Mamelodi Sundowns’ squad will have to share the workload as the club aims to compete on all fronts in domestic football going forward.
Since on nine the inception of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) 23 years ago, Sundowns are the most successful club having been crowned league champions occasions, while four of those titles came under coach Pitso Mosimane in just seven years.
That feat by Jingles has seen his team being regulars in continental competition, Caf Champions League, so much that they were crowned Kings of Continental Football in 2016.
However, there have been a yearning “small voice” from the Brazilians faithful about the club’s failure to regularly put in the shift in domestic cup competitions, having only won the Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout under Mosimane, who has enough arsenal at his disposal.
Mosimane has shown reluctance to rotate his line-up, so much that 34-year-old captain Hlompho Kekana played over 55 matches last season. But this term, there’s been a shift in gears with fringe and young players also given gme time. The big guns have been rested for important matches, a move that inspired them to the final of the Telkom Knockout.
The Brazilians will lock horns for their potential first trophy of the season against Maritzburg United at Moses Mabhida Stadium this evening (6pm), and that’s why Mosimane was not taking chances, resting his regulars during their mid-week 3-1 win over Stellenbosch FC in the league.
“More than anything is how you manage your games. And I think this time around we’ve learnt our lessons on how we should manage the team. In the game against Stellenbosch, players who’ve not been playing came to the fore and did the business for us,” Kekana said.
The odds favour the Brazilians to walk away as victors at the World Cup venue tonight, but Kekana knows too well it would be naïve of them to underestimate the Team of Choice, who’ve produced some giant slaying performances already in this competition.
On their march to the final, Eric Tinkler’s men defeated 2017/2018 Telkom Knockout champions Bidvest Wits in the last-16, 2019 MTN8 finalists Highlands Park and log leaders Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals.
Goals are something that have been hard to come by for Sundowns this season, especially after recently missing Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino due to an injury and suspension respectively. The attacking pair will be available for today’s all-important encounter.
Meanwhile, Maritzburg United defender, Siyanda Xulu, is set to miss out on an opportunity to end his duck of trophies in South African football against the team that gave him the platform to launch his career in top flight football.
Tinkler confirmed that Xulu is out for the Telkom Knockout final against his former side because of an injury.
Silverware has eluded Xulu domestically, but he has the Russian Cup that he won while playing for FC Rostov in Russia in the 2013/14 season.
In the past he has been in three cup finals without any luck. Xulu returned to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) back in 2015 and joined Kaizer Chiefs. He was involved in two cup finals in his first months at the club but unfortunately his team came out second best in both finals.
Xulu was made to wait again. In December 2015, Xulu, was oozing with confidence heading into the Telkom Knockout final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, but his team, Chiefs, lost that TKO final 3-1 to Sundowns. He was also part of the Maritzburg side that succumbed 1-0 to Free State Stars in the final of the Nedbank Cup.