Royal AM brace for tough Pirates challenge in the league

FESTIVAL-MEN: Thabo Matlaba of Royal AM challenged by Patrick Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates during a DStv Premiership match. | BackpagePix

FESTIVAL-MEN: Thabo Matlaba of Royal AM challenged by Patrick Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates during a DStv Premiership match. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 28, 2024


ROYAL AM players are energised by the prospect of playing Orlando Pirates, one of the DStv Premiership’s best teams currently.

AM coach John Maduka said there was no need to motivate his squad for today’s match at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

“It is also one of those games where your players are already motivated,” said Maduka. “It’s like that when you play one of the best but when you play with the ones that are, like, more of your size, you become a little bit more complacent.

“I hope that this game will be a different sort of game. You know, for you to be the best, you must compete with the best.”

There has been talk of Royal AM missing out on a top-eight berth at the end of the season because of their lowly 12th place in the 16-team league. Maduka is optimistic that the team will make the top-eight cut.

“If you see the way (how tight) the log is, it is possible,” said Maduka.

“It’s all up to us. We need to be persistent, take one game at a time, and show that we want to win games,

“And if we do so, I think we’ll give ourselves a chance because if you look at the table there is only a few points difference between the side in fifth place and where we are (in the 12th spot). So it still gives us a chance.”

Royal AM have seven games left in the season and Maduka feels the pressure is on teams because of targets.

“All of them are difficult but this will be particularly tough because they (Pirates) are looking to finish in second position.”

Thwihli Thwahla go into this clash having edged Polokwane City 3-2 before drawing 1-1 with Golden Arrows in the KZN derby.

AM defender Thabo ‘Festival’ Matlaba said they are targeting a victory in the hope of finishing in the top eight of the Premiership standings. Matlaba is a former Pirates player.

“This is one of our biggest games of the season. A very difficult game because Orlando Pirates are on form,” said Matlaba.

“They won 7-1 against Golden Arrows, they won against AmaZulu 4-2 in the Nedbank Cup and they beat them again 1-0 in the league. So, I don’t think that it’s going to be an easy game for us.

“We’ve been working hard to win this game so that we can be in the top eight and that’s what we want, to finish in the top eight. And we’re not far from achieving that because a win in this game against Pirates will take us to 32 points and that will take us straight into the top eight.

“This is a big game and doesn’t need any motivation because we’re playing against a big club with good players. That’s a motivation in itself. We need to work hard, commit ourselves, be aggressive and compete against those players. That’s what we’ll need to win this game.

“They’re coming here to Harry Gwala and it’s not going to be easy for them. We’ve just come from a 3-2 win over Polokwane City at the same venue and we also drew 1-1 with Arrows away.”