South Africa

No room for complacency warns Rhulani Mokwena ahead of Nedbank Cup match

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By Mihlali Baleka 1h ago

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JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns are leaving no stone unturned in their respective campaigns, with coach Rhulani Mokwena saying there’ll be no room for complacency when they entertain GladAfrica Championship side Polokwane City in the Nedbank Cup last-16 in Tshwane this afternoon.

The Nedbank Cup is earmarked as a competition of dreams, underdogs testing themselves against the elite. This season it has lived up to its billing, with teams from the second tier eliminating their top flight counterparts from the competition.

Sundowns will want to ensure they don’t suffer the same fate.

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They host a City side which was relegated to the lower division last season. City kept the bulk of the team, while coach Johnny Ferreira has brought a breath of fresh air.

The team that prevails this afternoon will meet Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals on April 15.

“It’s a very big game for us. “We cannot overemphasise the magnitude of the game against a rejuvenated side that has a new coach who has notched up two wins and two draws in their last four matches in the league,” Mokwena said.

“They’ve got a good profile of players that they’ve kept from their top flight team.

“We are going to have to work extremely hard to score. They’ve got a solid defensive structure. In the midfield, Salulani Phiri is there to consolidate, screen and help them deal with the second balls.”

Last season, the Brazilians won their first domestic treble since 1987, including the DStv Premiership, Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout under Pitso Mosimane.

Mosimane resigned in October last year, handing the baton to assistants Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi. The duo has inspired Sundowns to the summit of the league standings thus far.

Their continental campaign has been nigh to perfection as well. They top Group C of the CAF Champions League, thanks to three wins in a row against Al Hilal, CR Belouizdad and TP Mazembe.

The recent win over Mazembe was historic, the Brazilians becoming the first visiting team to defeat The Ravens in continental football at the Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi since October 2009 – after the surprise 2-0 loss to Al Hilal in the Champions League’s semi-final.

The Brazilians, though, are not leaving anything to chance in their Nedbank Cup defence today.

“We don’t deal with complacency. We don’t have possibilities to have complacency creep in. We can’t afford it. It’s not in our budget. We have extremely high demands and high goals and targets that we’ve set for ourselves,” Mokwena said.

“That means that the price that we have to pay (if we become complacent) is huge.

“That should also speak about our mental state with regards to how we approach each and every single game. And definitely, this is one of our most important games this season.”

@MihlaliBaleka

IOL Sport

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