Sundowns face uphill battle of fixtures in April
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Premier League and Nedbank Cup double credentials will be put to the test next month where they are scheduled to play seven matches in all competitions.
The Brazilians‚ whose Caf Champions League group stages programme starts in May with a home clash against against Moroccan giants Wydad Athletic Club‚ begin their hectic domestic April schedule with a Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash against Cape Town City at the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday.
Three days later‚ they shift their attention to the league to welcome visiting Chippa United before taking on Baroka FC‚ Golden Arrows‚ Bidvest Wits‚ Maritzburg United and Ajax Cape Town in matches that have the potential to define their season in quick succession.
Orlando Pirates‚ Sundowns’ closest rivals for the championship who have been knocked out of the Nedbank Cup‚ only have five league matches this month where they play against Bloemfontein Celtic‚ SuperSport United‚ AmaZulu‚ Wits and Cape Town City.
Looking ahead at their busy schedule‚ Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana admitted that the situation they are faced with is not the best but said have no choice but to get on with the programme and fulfill their fixtures.
“As players we are fully aware of what is coming our way and it is up to everyone in the whole squad to be ready for a fight‚” Kekana said.
“Each and every member of the squad must be ready to be called upon at any time for battle and make a positive contribution to the team because it is going to be a rough ride.”
He said that Sundowns have been in this situation before‚ notably when they won the 2015-16 league title‚ then went on to be victorious in the 2016 Caf Champions League‚ the two campaigns resulting in a stack-up of fixtures.
“We are professionals and the guys know very well that we will not be training as much as we would like because of the short turnaround of matches.
“The most important thing for us is going to be resting enough between matches so that we have that freshness. Unfortunately there is nothing much we can do about the situation but to get out there and fight for the club and our fans.”
When the Nedbank Cup dates and venues were released last week‚ Sundowns and Cape Town City requested the league to have their quarterfinal at Cape Town Stadium to be moved back to Saturday‚ March 31 but they were turned down.
After the Nedbank Cup clash‚ both Sundowns and Cape Town City will have two days to prepare for their next league matches against Chippa United and Golden Arrows respectively.