Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi is confident they can take their championship-winning mettle into domestic cup competitions when they clash with Maritzburg United in the final of the Telkom Knockout tomorrow (6pm kick-off).
In the past two seasons, Sundowns have walked the walk and talked the talk in the Absa Premiership after being crowned back-to-back champions, but they have struggled in the cup.
The last time the Brazilians won a cup competition was back in December 2015 via the Telkom Knockout after defeating Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
They were then hammered 3-0 by Bidvest Wits in the MTN8 final at Mbombela Stadium in 2016.
But far from despair, coach Pitso Mosimane made it clear their main targets were the big trophies - the Premiership and CAF Champions League - due to their gruelling schedule in domestic and continental football.
This season, however, the Brazilians are leaving no stone unturned after reaching the final of the Telkom Knockout following wins over Bloemfontein Celtic in the last 16, Chippa United in the quarter-finals and Golden Arrows in the semis.
“Each and every time we’ve tried to give it (domestic cup competitions) our best shot, and in the last couple of years we were not able to go all the way. But it’s now a different scenario,” Vilakazi said.
The obstacle between Sundowns and a potential first trophy of the season is a Maritzburg team that’s been pleasing on eye lately.
In their march to the final Maritzburg defeated Bidvest Wits in the round of 16, Highlands Park in the quarter-finals and league leaders Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals.
Tomorrow though, the Team of Choice, who were Nedbank Cup finalists two seasons ago, will wear the underdogs cap despite the encounter being played in KwaZulu-Natal at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
But nonetheless, Vilakazi believes it will be naïve of Sundowns to think they’ll easily take the trophy back to the nation’s capital.
“They (Maritzburg) are a very organised team and they’ve done very well to get this far, so it will be a very good challenge for us. But I think the most important thing is to win the cup,” he said.
“They’ll try by all means to make sure that we do not have the ball because we always want to have the ball and dominate.
“That (having the ball) will give us opportunities and expectations of winning the cup. When we have the ball, we must try by all means to make use of it.”
Sundowns head into the final full of confidence after pulling off a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over league rookies Stellenbosch FC on Wednesday night as they closed the gap between themselves and pacesetters Chiefs, who’ve played one game more, to 10 points.
That victory was a glimpse of the depth and winning mentality within the Sundowns squad, with coach Mosimane playing his second-string team after resting nine regulars for the final.
“It was important for us to win against Stellenbosch because we are starting to get our rhythm back in terms of getting double use, which is win-win,” Vilakazi explained.