Cape Town – When DStv Premiership upstarts Royal AM and SuperSport United clash at Chatsworth Stadium in Durban on Tuesday, the outcome could be determined by who fares best between Bafana Bafana teammates Victor Letsoalo (Royal) and Ronwen Williams (SuperSport) (kick-off 5.30pm).
Royal AM have shocked friend and foe alike after they climbed the standings to reach an enviable fourth, which is an incredible achievement for a club that did not have pre-season preparation. The former Bloemfontein Celtic coach John Maduka inherited a Royal AM squad that included virtually all his former players. Very much like pack horses rather than racehorses, Maduka and his squad have hit the ground running. Eight rounds later, they have fared better than 12 other Premiership teams.
Only Mamelodi Sundowns, Stellenbosch and SuperSport have fared better, and if Maduka's charges secure victory on Tuesday, they will leapfrog their opponents into third place.
Royal AM have been campaigning with loads of endeavour, and striker Letsoalo has been leading the charge. He brings courage, enthusiasm, and energy when Royal AM enter the opposition's goalmouth and SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams knows all about him.
Since the start of the season, Letsoalo has been in form for club and country, and Williams will prepare his rearguard to snuff out the threat.
Maduka, a former Malawian international, believes his side squad is a work in progress, and his players are buoyed by the point they picked up against Pirates in their last outing.
“In football, you lose some and win some," said Maduka. "It is a young team we are getting better and better.
For coach Kaitano Tembo, SuperSport's defeat at the hands of Chiefs was a hard pill to swallow because it marked their first Premiership defeat this season.
"I think we also had chances, especially in the first half when we had two scoring opportunities," said Tembo. "We could have slotted the ball in there and the result could have been different.
"We just have to dust ourselves off and focus on Royal AM.”
Tembo said that his team learnt valuable lessons from the defeat.
“I'm disappointed with the two goals we conceded," said Tembo. "We didn't track our runners. We were a little bit sloppy in our defending, especially the two centre-backs. They were a lot of cross runs in front of them. We didn't manage our distances."
In head-to-head stats, this will be the first Premiership meeting between Royal AM and SuperSport.