Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
2 minute read
17 Dec 2021
11:39 am

‘Pirates have an awkward structure’, says Rhulani ahead of Bucs battle

Ntokozo Gumede

'There is a lot of work we need to do to prepare our players for this game,” said Mokwena,' says the Sundowns head coach.

Mamelodi Sundowns take on Orlando Pirates in a DStv Premiership encounter at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Friday. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The affair between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates is one that stands out in the DStv Premiership calendar, particularly because Sundowns usually find joy when they visit the Orlando Stadium, much like the Buccaneers hold their own when they play at Sundowns’ backyard.

READ ALSO: They are not invincible, says Ncikazi ahead of Sundowns showdown

This time around, the is set for the Loftus Versfeld Stadium where Downs have not lost a single game this season and by the time Pirates kicked-off their game against Swallows on Tuesday, Sundowns had just fought a hard battle against Baroka. Mokwena was not keen on staying long in a press conference with journalists as he wanted to watch the Soweto derby in preparation for today’s game.  

“They have a very awkward structure and there is a lot of work we need to do to prepare our players for this game,” said Mokwena.

“We looked at their games against TS Galaxy, Baroka and AmaZulu and we had to go deeper into the library. They deserve a lot of respect because they are turning in the results now and we see with the position that they are in on the log – it gives them a lot of confidence. I saw that in the first few minutes they were already up in the game against Swallows and Bandile Shandu has now scored in two consecutive matches as a full-back,” he added.

Is a given that Mamelodi Sundowns are one of the least likely teams to find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle or missing out in a top eight finish as they have recorded two top finishes in the last eight years in the top-flight – winning a record setting four championships on the spin in the last four campaigns. Now sitting at 40 points, Mokwena says his team does not take the landmark for granted.

“All these achievements need to be appreciated because it is a biblical principle that for you to be blessed with bigger things, you need to appreciate the smaller things that come your way,” Mokwena said.   

He adds: “We want to continue to improve and continue to work hard because we know how long the season is going to be. We know how difficult it is to win the championship in this country and ours is to go beyond the milestones. Two weeks ago we congratulated the players on getting the 30 point mark, which means we stay in the topflight and now we reached the 40-point mark, which means we guaranteed a top-eight spot because over the last couple of years, 38 points and upwards guarantee you a place in the MTN8.”