Mamelodi Sundowns are aiming to become the first team in South Africa’s top flight football to win a treble in 10 years. This will come as a big relief to a side that bombed out of the CAF Champions League last weekend against Angolan side Petro de Luanda. Sundowns come up against a tricky Royal AM in the Nedbank Cup semi-final in Chatsworth on Saturday.
Winning three trophies in one season in South African football is a rare occurrence. Orlando Pirates are the last local team to win a treble 10 years ago. In fact Pirates won an historic double treble between 2010 and 2012, but the current era belongs to Mamelodi Sundowns.
Sundowns, who only won the DSTV Premiership title last season, are now pushing for three trophies after clinching the league title on Wednesday and also winning the MTN-8 trophy earlier this season.
“The treble is very difficult to speak about because how many times has that been done in South Africa. It’s a very difficult achievement to do so. We don’t speak about it, what we do speak about is always trying to win every single match and that means winning every day at training, improving and working very hard. That is going in every match and doing the best that we can, and improving from the previous match in terms of the performance and if that is good enough to get three trophies, then all we can do to be honest is to thank God for that blessing,” says Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach.
Mokoena says despite all their achievements so far this season, the standard of the club does not allow them to be complacent for the remainder of the season.
“Of course there’s something to play for and even when we played Champions League, we qualified with three games to go from the group but we still played those games with integrity and with respect because the brand demands that. The responsibility of this football club and the players understand that there is no dead rubber matches and all these games are games that present us with an opportunity to maybe even start thinking about different things that we want to do next season,” Mokoena elaborates.
But Sundowns realise that they will be coming up against tricky opposition. Royal AM have been punching above their weight so far this season and are firm favourites to finish as runners-up in the league behind the Brazilians.
“We expect a very difficult match and a match that has a team that’s got very good players, that’s well coached John [Maduka] and his technical team are doing a fantastic job which is good to see. But we also have a very good team, we’ve got very good players, we’ve got lofty ambitions, we want to be at the final, we not afraid to say that we going to go on Saturday to work to be in the final and try the level best that we can to make sure that we are in the final,” Mokoena added.
Royal AM are famous for staging late comebacks in matches, the same thing they did when they clawed their way back from two goals down to beat National First Division side, the University of Pretoria to progress to the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup.
“That is a new team and because of the new club, ninety percent of this playing personnel come from Bloemfontein Celtic under the same coach, and so there’s longevity. There’s very good cohesion and that is a very big strength…in very difficult moments and maybe which is one of the reasons why possibly Eric Tinkler says they stay in the games and grind results. You need a very good collective spirit to be able to do that,” says Mokoena.
The much anticipated match between Royal AM and Sundowns scheduled for Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium, kicks off at 7pm on Saturday.