5/30/2024 12:00:00 AM

Sundowns players confident of Nedbank Cup success

PIC: Peter Shalulile

Mamelodi Sundowns will have revenge on their minds when they face Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup decider at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 15h00), having already missed out on one trophy at the hands of The Buccaneers this campaign.
The Brazilians are chasing a ‘Treble’ of title wins this season with the DStv Premiership and African Football League already safely secured in the trophy cabinet, but a huge task ahead of them to add the Nedbank Cup as well.
They face the defending champions and a club that that has become adept at knockout football, having claimed a second successive MTN8 title earlier this season when they beat Sundowns on penalties following a 0-0 draw in the final. 
It is the first time in Nedbank Cup history that two of the so-called ‘Big Three’ in the country meet in the decider and will be a massive occasion. 
“The last time we met in the final (MTN8), they beat us, but that is the game of football,” Sundowns striker Peter Shalulile said. “Going into the Nedbank Cup final is different. We want to get the job done.

“We are going into this match knowing very well that we also have good players, a great team, and a good coach. We will do our best like we always do, which is to be positive and make sure that every chance we get, we utilise it.”

Shalulile is the all-time Nedbank Cup top-scorer with 11 goals for The Brazilians and three in the colours of Highlands Park for a total of 14. His goals have come in 17 Nedbank Cup starts.
Veteran playmaker Themba Zwane is dreaming of another Nedbank Cup win having helped the side to titles in 2015, 2020 and 2022.

“We are all about making history, and it’s the culture of this team,” Zwane said. “It’s very important for us to win this trophy because, as a team, we told ourselves that we want to finish this season on a high.

“We will go into this game with a positive mindset and do our best to win the game.”

Midfielder Neo Maema is also aiming for a final piece of silverware in what has been a momentum season for the club.

“The Treble is still there and we want it. It has been a successful season. Last campaign we did very well, but we only won the league,” Maema said. “This season, we have also won the AFL, so in our eyes it’s a successful season and we can put the cherry on top with the Nedbank Cup.

“I would not say there are favourites or underdogs, but we won the league, and it takes a marathon runner to win the league and be consistent in their performances.”

Pirates and Sundowns have clashed five times before in the Nedbank Cup since 2008, but never the final. The Buccaneers edge the head-to-head 3-2 with the last meeting in the quarterfinals in 2021 when Sundowns ran out 4-1 victors.

Pirates and Sundowns are both appearing in a sixth Nedbank Cup final since 2008, a record they share. Pirates have won three of their previous five visits to the prestigious decider, beating Black Leopards (3-1 in 2011), BidVest Wits (3-1 in 2014) and Sekhukhune United (2-1 in 2023), but losing twice to SuperSport United (3-2 in 2016 and 4-1 in 2017).

Sundowns have four wins, taking the title against Mpumalanga Black Aces (1-0 in 2008), Ajax Cape Town (4-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 2015), Bloemfontein Celtic (1-0 in 2020) and Marumo Gallants (2-1 in 2022). They also lost to local rivals SuperSport United (2-0 in 2012).


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