Royal AM coach John Maduka wants his team to maintain their brilliant start to 2022, which has seen the Durban team climb to second spot on the DStv Premiership table and qualify for the Nedbank Cup last-16.
The Malawian-born coach was speaking ahead of Royal’s Nedbank game against Swallows FC at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Friday night (kickoff 6pm).
The cup match comes just less than five days since Royal beat Swallows 1-0 in Durban to move to 15 points behind Premiership log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
Maduka, whose team beat Cape Town City 2-1 at home to reach the Nedbank last-16, have also been performing beyond expectations in the league. Wins against SuperSport United (2-0) and Sekhukhune United (1-0) and a draw against Chippa United (2-2) form part of Am’s impressive five-match unbeaten run this year.
“We want to go to another stage in the cup and for us to be able to do so we’ll have to go all out,” said Maduka, who lost to Sundowns as coach of Bloemfontein Celtic — the side which was bought by Royal before the start of the current season — in the final of this competition in 2020.
“We’ll be playing Swallows for the second time in as many days but this will be a different ball game. It’s cup game and if you don’t finish it in 90 minutes you get extra time and penalties.
“But we would love to go all out and make sure we try our best because we’ve got a squad that’s capable and we’re looking forward to the game.”
Though his team has been doing well in the league, Maduka was at pains to explain that at the moment they’re just looking to finish in the top half.
“We don’t want to put pressure on the players, our aim was to make sure we’re in the top eight. When we’re sure we’re there maybe we can play for something else to finish in a better position.
“But for now we’re happy with the way things are going. It’s good to be in top two but the main aim for us is to be in that top eight.”
Maduka didn’t rule out fighting to win the Nedbank. The winners will qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup alongside the team that will finish third in the Premiership.
“It’s important that we do well in this cup because it’s the one left this season. But for us it will be important to win first against Swallows, a game we believe will be a very difficult.
“But with the squad that we have, we know that we’re capable of competing with anyone. We’ll try to take the game to them because the game has to finish. We want to use the ball well and make sure we avoid them hurting us.”
Maduka’s team are looking strong with the addition of striker Mxolisi Macuphu, who has already banged in three goals since signing in January, veteran left-back Thabo Matlaba, goalkeeper Marlon Huegh, speedy winger Shaun Mogaila and former Sundowns skipper and defender Ricardo Nascimento.
“It’s a big bonus to us to have players like Matlaba, Nascimento and Macuphu. They’re experienced players, they’ve been there before and they’re players who want to win something because they come from teams that having been winning,” Maduka said.
“When you get players who have won things in their lives, whenever they play they want to win. Having them in the team is a very, very big bonus for the team.”