Royal AM hoping to turn the tables on Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena. | BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena. | BackpagePix

Published May 14, 2024



Royal AM will draw great inspiration from last Saturday’s performance against Mamelodi Sundowns, who came away with a late match-winning goal at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.

The two teams cross swords again this evening, this time at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

Rulani Mokwena won the Cosafa Men's Coach of the Year award earlier this month. | BackpagePix

On Saturday, the visiting Royal AM looked like they could burgle a point from the encounter, despite being under the whip for long periods. However, five minutes from the end, ace goal poacher Peter Shalulile headed home the Sundowns winner.

On another day, the goal may have been disallowed. TV replays showed that the substitute striker, Argentinian Júnior Mendieta, appeared to be in an offside position when Lesiba Nku’s cross was headed home by Shalulile.

After the match, Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena was prompted to reflect on the narrow victory.

He said: “As coaches, we can’t measure our teams based on the result, unfortunately. We look at the performance and ask ourselves if we play like this 10 times, how many of those games would we win?

“If we played the way we played today 10 times, I think we would win nine out of 10 and I think the better side won.”

Their failure to pick up points from this game has sucked Royal AM into the relegation quagmire on 29 points and they are now only two points clear of the second-last team, Richards Bay.

Head coach of Royal AM John Maduka. | BackpagePix

Royal AM coach John Maduka was pleased that his team had pushed the record-breaking champions to the edge. He said a lack of concentration cost his team in the end, even though Sundowns had many scoring chances.

“I think defensively we did well. I think the game plan was good until that moment you know we lost concentration and we just gave the goal that was not supposed to be there because we knew that it’s a team that you have to defend every moment,” said Maduka.

“You can’t afford to relax because (they are) a team that takes the game to you and they keep on pushing and keep looking for that goal, they keep on putting pressure on you.

“That moment made us lose the game but otherwise the game plan was good, and the boys defended so well.”

Malawian Maduka will appeal for a greater show of calm when his charges run out on today.

“I think with a bit of calm we could maybe score a goal against Sundowns but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Maduka.

“At this time of the season, players are tired, their bodies are tired. As a coach you have to make sure that you motivate them.

“If you have a thin squad, you have to use the players again and again. It’s not easy but we will continue fighting.”