JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns reserve league coach David Notoane is hoping for a change of fortunes when they meet arch-rivals SuperSport United in the Tshwane-derby at Vosloorus Stadium on Saturday.
Sundowns have had a rocky start in their pursuit of challenging for the Diski Challenge trophy as they are currently ninth on the log standings with 11 points from seven matches. On the other hand, their counterparts SuperSport have started well as they occupy seventh spot with 12 points. Matsantsantsa’s strong-point has been their attacking department that consists of Darren Smith and Khanyisile Mayo.
“I am aware of their striking department, and that’s the result of the way that they play,” Notoane said. “They always catch you while you are unprepared; however, I am hoping that we can score first. But sometimes even that doesn’t help because they’ve got a good fighting spirit.
I think this season; they’ve already managed to come back from behind in three matches. They are young players that are experienced and who understand the mental pressure.”
Under Kwanele Kopo, SuperSport were among the title contenders for the Diski Challenge in the first half of last season as Smith was also firing on all cylinders. Towards the end of the year, Smith was snatched up by the senior team selectors in pursuit of helping them resolve their scoring woes as tried to avoid relegation.
Without their frontman, the reserves succumbed and finished seventh on the log. Amid SuperSport’s bright start under Dutch tactician, Nico Labohm, this season, Notoane is not fazed. He believes their neighbours have only done better in terms of integration and support of the reserves.
“SuperSport have been the same all these years,” the 49-year-old coach said. “They’ve had the same players, just that some of them were on loan or with the first team. I haven’t worked with Nico enough to think that he’s mainly responsible for their bright start.
I don’t think there’s been much difference compared to other seasons. We can only say this season there’s been integration and support towards the reserves, but was Kopo given the same resources?”
Sundowns looked to have hit the ground running in the opening stages of the season, as they bagged eight points in the first four matches. However, that was short lived as they’ve only secured one point in the last three matches - as a result, they trail leaders Cape Town City by five.
According to Notoane, his team has the personnel, but they are struggling to score goals.
“I think the break had a negative effect towards our progress,”he said. “We are playing well, but we are not scoring goals. So, it’s disappointing that after a good start, we lost momentum. I think these boys have slept a bit and we need to wake them up.”@Mihlalibaleka
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