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Now out of the Nedbank Cup, Royal AM will be focused on securing second place

FILE - Royal AM head coach John Maduka. Photo: Rogan Ward/BackpagePix

FILE - Royal AM head coach John Maduka. Photo: Rogan Ward/BackpagePix

Published May 2, 2022


Durban — Royal AM’s focus will now fully be on securing second place in the DStv Premiership following their 2-1 Nedbank Cup elimination at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns at the Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday.

Thwihli Thwahla are in action tomorrow night as they make a short trip to Pietermaritzburg to play against Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

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The loss against Masandawana was the Durban based club’s first in all competitions since the start of 2022. Should they finish second this season, they will qualify for the CAF Champions League next season, an impressive achievement considering that this is only their first season in the top-flight.

However, with Kaizer Chiefs now seemingly out of the top four reckoning, it does look like Royal AM will face a strong challenge from in form Cape Town City and even potentially fourth place Orlando Pirates in the race to secure second spot.

John Maduka’s side will also be up against a Maritzburg United side that will be fighting to avoid relegation. Maritzburg are just one point clear of the relegation zone. They are sixth points clear of last place Baroka FC but just one point ahead of TS Galaxy who are currently on course to play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) promotion/relegation playoffs.

In Ernst Middendorp, the Team of Choice have a coach who is highly experienced when it comes to navigating relegation battles and this is something that can work to their advantage at this point of the season.

“For us, being in the relegation battle is not a totally new situation. The technical team is taking things day by day and doing a lot of additional work to make it possible to avoid relegation. We have the experience that is required,” said Middendorp.

The German does concede that Royal AM will be the favourites to win the Kwa-Zulu Natal derby.

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“Royal AM have been having a fantastic season and they have experienced players like Thabo Matlaba and Ricardo Nascimento. They have huge confidence and if you go into a position to qualify for the Champions League, it’s a huge achievement. It will be a massive achievement if they qualify for the Champions League,’ said Middendorp.

Middendorp does not want to set a target for the amount of points he wants his team to achieve. Instead, he wants his troops to view their progress on a game by game basis.

“Everybody thinks that 30 points could be safe. I have no idea at the moment what may be enough. At the moment, we are going from game to game. We were unfortunate to have lost against AmaZulu as we were in the game. I don’t want to talk about what might be enough. The results are unpredictable at the moment,” said Middendorp.

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