Football

WE FEEL THAT WE ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO WIN THE GAME WITH THE SQUAD THAT WE HAVE-COACH RULANI

Dominant Mamelodi Sundowns return to DStv Premiership action after the festive break and they begin their 2024 campaign with a mouthwatering tussle against rivals Orlando Pirates on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld.

Masandawana ended the year 2023 with a draw against Polokwane City at home and remain unbeaten in the DStv Premiership campaign. The first placed Downs, who are two games behind, will be looking to start the new year on a high note after the work they have done at their recent camp. Coach Rulani stated that his side anticipates a difficult encounter against the Soweto-based side.

“The break was good for us. The mini mid-season camp was very good. We worked on a couple of things we want to improve in the second half of the season. We know how difficult the game is going to be. It’s always difficult after such a long period of rest. We have not had all our players for every single training session at the same time, which makes it a little bit complicated, but we have a very good squad and a lot of very good players in every possession. We feel that we are strong enough to be able to win the game with the squad that we have,” the head coach stated.

“We know how difficult it’s going to be on Saturday. We are playing against a very good side and we have to make sure that we are at our best, not just in a tactical perspective but also emotionally and maybe even psychologically too, to make sure that we give a great performance,” he continued.

The Brazilians might go without a few players on Sunday, who took part in the African Cup of Nations, where the South African National Team bagged the bronze medal. Coach Rulani gave an injury update on the players and mentioned that the team might go into a few encounters without them.

“I think with the Bafana Bafana players we have a few concerns. We’ve got a couple of players that came back with injuries and that might delay their return because we now have to deal with their rehabilitation. We have some concerns with Mothobi Mvala, Thapelo Maseko, Themba Zwane, Teboho Mokoena, Khuliso Mudau and Ronwen Williams. They now have to start with regeneration and the rehabilitation phase because they have to flush out the stress and the pressures of a tournament of that magnitude. Psychologically there needs to be some work done so they are ready to be competitive again,” he said.

The Johannesburg-born tactician concluded by giving an update on the new signings. He expressed his pride and excitement of having them in the team and the work they have done so far.

“The new signings are settling well. Tashreeq Matthews came in with some concerns but he is training well and is now getting better and stronger. Matías Esquivel’s adaptation is a little bit difficult for him because of the language barrier. He has a completely different way of playing and you can expect very good things from him once he’s settled. Zuko Mdunyelwa is very good. I have been surprised by him especially from a physical perspective. He is a good footballer too and learns very quickly. You’ll see some of the new players gaining some game time in the upcoming matches.”

Mamelodi Sundowns do battle Orlando Pirates on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld. Kick-off is scheduled for 20H00 live on SuperSport TV.

SOURCED FROM THE MAMELODI SUNDOWNS WEBSITE.

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