JOHANNESBURG – Former Mamelodi Sundowns maestro Godfrey Sapula is banking on fresher triumphant memories of the top-eight competition from the current Brazilians squad.
He had to take about a minute on Thursday before recalling the success story they wrote in the last edition of the SAA Supa 8 competition in 2007.
It’s been over a decade since Sapula and Co beat Orlando Pirates in the Final, courtesy of a solitary strike by Brent Carelse at Kings Park.
Since then, things have evolved: mobile giants MTN took over from SAA, and Sapula coached Footballer of the Season Percy Tau at the club’s youth ranks.
“I remember the game where Brent scored a beautiful goal and we won by 1-0,” Sapula said.
“In the 2006/07 season, we had won the league. We then told ourselves that we need a good start in the following year and back then, we had to start with the Supa 8.
“We knew that if we put our energy into the first 2-3 games, we would be in the final. We also wanted to continue with the previous season’s momentum.”
Fast track six years and Sundowns began their quest to be a force to be reckoned with, locally and abroad. They’ve achieved that as they won every piece of silverware on offer, including the Caf Champions League, while the MTN 8 continued to elude them.
Their best shot at the competition in that period, has been making the 2016 finals, which subsequently ended in a 3-0 humiliation to Bidvest Wits.
In their pursuit for the R8 million grand prize this year, they’ve already surpassed the quarter-final stage and they’ll now meet a resilient Cape Town City side at Cape Town Stadium today, in the first leg of the semi-finals.
Maybe, the 44-year-old 2006/07 Footballer of the Year’s recent partnership with MTN as an ambassador of the tournament will act as a “charm” that will help the team go all the way.
“I had a feeling that the way in which Sundowns played in the game against Golden Arrows (in the last eight) was more of a training session for them,” he insisted.
“You could see that there was still more. Hence, I feel that this could be a lucky year for Sundowns to have the trophy in the cabinet.”
For the Brazilians to get a result against City today, it will take a collective team effort considering this will be their third competitive encounter in a week.
Although they still remain the team to beat in top-flight football, but it will take some time for them to find their rhythm after the departure of talisman Khama Billiat and Percy Tau.
However, “The Godfather” is of the opinion that trickster Themba Zwane has already shown glimpses that he’s capabable of filling in the void.
“We can’t replace those players, but others will want to step,” Sapula said.
“I think Mshishi (Zwane) has done well so far. It is not only this season, but in the past one as well. Percy (Tau) might have performed last season but I think Mshishi had a great season as well.
“So he’s continued with the momentum already, and personally, I think he’ll be the player to watch.”
The Brazilians will be hoping for a positive result today before they welcome the Citizens in the return leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday, September 2.@Mihlalibaleka