Champs search for 10th successive win in Mazembe clash

Mngqithi credits medical staff for Downs' prowess

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix/Gallo Images

Following their weekend’s come-from-behind 2-1 league win over Stellenbosch, Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has heaped praise on the club’s strength and conditioning coaches alongside the medical department for the side’s fitness amid a congested fixture programme.

Three days after dispatching Polokwane City 4-0 in the Nedbank Cup last 16 at home, Sundowns travelled to the Mother City to face Stellenbosch and managed a win courtesy of Gaston Sirino and Peter Shalulile, who netted the winner deep in stoppage time. Stellies struck via Stanley Dimgba.

The Brazilians’ tight schedule will reach a crescendo when they host Congolese giants TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League Group B tie at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow (6pm). The Tshwane heavyweights have already qualified for the knockout phase, having won all their three previous group phase games and sitting top of the group.

“The management of the games is very tough. It’s very difficult for us when you look at our schedule and the matches we’re playing back to back. It’s very tough but one should give credit to our conditioning department,” said Mngqithi, whose boys are on a 24-match unbeaten streak.

“One should give credit our medical department ... our masseur Thato Mkhonzeni; those guys are doing a lot of work and helping in that space. Our recovery processes always demand a lot and there’s so much that we have to do and those guys are always on top of their game. They play a very good role in making sure that the team is fresh.”

Mngqithi was of the view that having quality players was the main factor they managed to grind the win in Cape winelands, stressing the significance of the win. Downs are now on 39 points, sitting comfortable at the summit of the log after 17 outings.

“In terms of quality, we might always have an edge and that’s what happened. For us this was a six-pointer because not many people can easily beat Stellenbosch and it was very important for us to get the result. I thank the boys for the fighting spirit, this is how the champions are made.”

Saturday’s win was Sundowns’ ninth in a row in all competitions. They will be favoured to dispose of TP Mazembe after beating them 2-1 in Lubumbashi over a week ago.

Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs jetted out of the country yesterday for their group phase match against Petro of Angola in Luanda tomorrow (6pm). Orlando Pirates will also be involved in continental action as they take on Nigeria’s Enyimba in the Confederation Cup on Wednesday (Orlando, 6pm).

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.