Mamelodi Sundowns will be fired up to atone for their Caf Champions League and MTN8 exits when they meet AmaZulu in the Absa Premiership at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday‚ right-back Anele Ngcongca has said.
August saw Pitso Mosimane’s new-look Sundowns exit the Champions League from the group stages. It also saw Downs’ MTN8 semifinals over two legs against Cape Town City eventually decided on penalties.
Ngcongca was asked how he thought especially the Brazilians’ string of new players who Mosimane is battling to integrate at the start of 2018-19 would react to the double blow in a match against AmaZulu in a tough venue in Umlazi.
“I think whoever starts the game against AmaZulu will be carrying a lot of pressure. I know how it feels to have been knocked out in these two competitions‚” the former Genk and Troyes defender said.
“We’ve got that anger in us . It was something that we didn’t expect. But that’s football.
“But now every player gets a chance to lift up his hand and say‚ ‘Listen‚ I’m a Sundowns player. We want to start our season actually from Sunday‚ and then going forward’.
“If I were AmaZulu I would have preferred to have played a relaxed Sundowns. But now what they will encounter is a Sundowns with a fire in the belly and ice in the head.
“A Sundowns who I believe you will now see the best of.”
Sundowns’ signings – including Toni Silva‚ Jose Meza‚ Lebogang Maboe and Andile Jali – have battled to click as the team went four matches without a goal before beating City 1-0 in the MTN8 semis second leg match‚ which was only enough to take the tie to penalties.
Now Downs face a tough week in KwaZulu-Natal‚ where after meeting AmaZulu they face Lamontville Golden Arrows at Princess Magogo Stadium on Wednesday.
“It’s a tough week‚ of course. But at the end of the day we’ve done it before and it’s not something that’s new to us‚” Ngcongca said.
“The only thing we’re hoping for is that we’ll show our character. Because after being knocked out of the Champions League and MTN8 we need to bounce back and do our best to defend our league title.
“We know it won’t be an easy game against AmaZulu. Like our coach has said‚ they are not going to give it to us on a plate.
“We need to double our effort. They’re at home. It’s their advantage of course.
“But from what I remember since I’ve come to Sundowns we’ve done a good job away against AmaZulu.”
Sundowns beat then-promoted AmaZulu 3-1 in KZN in their away league fixture last season in March.