Downs prepared Swallows for Bucs
MBABANE Swallows coach Mpendulo Ngwenya says playing against Mamelodi Sundowns in a friendly game gave them valuable insight into South African football before they play Orlando Pirates.
Swallows and Pirates, who are champions in their respective countries' leagues, will square up in the second semifinal of the Mbombela Super Cup at 1pm on Sunday at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Ngwenya says they expect a tactically different team in Pirates, hence the focus on their friendly game against Sundowns was to ensure that most of the players who would feature on Sunday got 90 minutes' game time.
"It was a blessing in disguise for us to be exposed before we play Pirates. Our players learnt something from playing against professional players," Ngwenya says.
Sundowns, who are currently in Swaziland for their pre-season, beat Swallows 4-0 in a friendly game that was played last Sunday at Mavuso Sport Ground.
The Swallows-Pirates match will be all the more intriguing because the Swazi side want revenge for their defeat by the Buccaneers in the 2006 CAF Champions League. In their last meeting they played to a 2-all draw at Kanyamazane Stadium.
They eventually lost 7-3 on aggregate after having been beaten 5-1 at Somhlolo Stadium.
In Swallows, Pirates face a known quantity. Familiar faces in the Swallows colours will include ex-Santos player Tony Tsabedze and the former Jomo Cosmos duo of Darren Christie and Mfanafuthi Bhembe.
Tsabedze said: "I'm happy that we were drawn against Pirates. My dream was to play against either Sundowns or Pirates rather than Sivutsa Stars. At least we know how Pirates and Sundowns play compared with Sivutsa."
Pirates are expected to field some of their new signings, including Onyekachi Okonkwo, Ayanda Gcaba, Khethokwakhe Masuku and Patrick Phungwayo. Sivutsa Stars will face a tough task when they come up against Sundowns in the first of the semifinals at 10.30am.
Sivutsa PRO Charles "Zala" Nkosi said they are ready to take on the star-studded Downs outfit.
"We want to keep the trophy in Mbombela and to do that we have to win the semifinal. We are ready for this game and the players are expected to do a great job on the day. We don't mind who wins the second semifinal, as we will be ready for them," Nkosi said. The gates will open at 8am.