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Coach Owen Da Gama plays the underdog card

Coach Owen Da Gama of Highlands Park.
Coach Owen Da Gama of Highlands Park.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Perhaps as a ploy to lower expectations, Highlands Park coach Owen Da Gama has indicated they intend to utilise their Nedbank Cup quarterfinal showdown against Mamelodi Sundowns to acquire experience for future purposes.

Highlands meet Sundowns for a spot in the Nedbank Cup semifinals at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday (6pm). Da Gama views the Downs clash as a learning curve.

"We are playing against probably the best team in Africa. There's no doubt about it, one of the best with loads of experience, loads of quality as well," said Da Gama yesterday.

"You always want to play against the best, that's how you grow as a team. The experience we will get is invaluable. I think we lack a little bit with the experience but this is the type of game that allows us to grow and learn for future."

In his usual chatty self, Da Gama expanded by acclaiming Downs' quality, suggesting each and every player at the Tshwane club can score. The Lions of the North coach, nevertheless, said his charges were automatically upbeat to face the Brazilians.

"Sundowns can score from anywhere from [Gaston] Sirino, from [Themba] Zwane, from [Sibusiso] Vilakazi, from [Lebohang] Maboe, from [Hlompho] Kekana, from [Andile] Jali and from defenders. They are all-round, a fantastic team. They've been playing together for a while now.

"It's so easy to motivate the boys; it's self-motivational when you're playing against teams like Sundowns. But for me, the growth of the club is more important," Da Gama stated.

As much as he sounded rather pessimistic about beating Downs, Da Gama still draws inspiration from last Saturday's surprising result, where strugglers AmaZulu humbled log leaders Kaizer Chiefs by beating them 1-0.

"You've seen what happened at the weekend, bottom of the table team beating top of the log team.

"So you'd never know what would happen. It's a cup game, anything can happen," said the Highlands tactician.

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