Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena said he does not believe his Orlando Pirates counterpart Josef Zinnbauer’s claims that the Tshwane giants are the favourites in Thursday’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash at Loftus Versfeld (18:00).
Mokwena refused to buy into the Pirates’ coach “mind games” and was not in the mood to entertain talks of Sundowns being the favourites going into the cup tie he described as “the final before the final”.
Zinnabauer fired the first salvo in the psychological battle surrounding their Nedbank clash when he said “Sundowns are the favourites in this game and have the best team in the league and Caf Champions League.”
🚨𝔾 𝔸 𝕄 𝔼 𝔻 𝔸 𝕐🚨
— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) April 15, 2021
“I won’t respond to Zinnbauer’s comments, but the facts are on the pitch. If you look at the two teams in this moment in time. It is clear which one goes into Thursday’s match fresher than the other,” said Mokwena.
“If there is any form of advantage, I would think that Pirates have a huge advantage. When you do have advantages, it is very difficult to be the underdog. If you compare Pirates’ and Sundowns’ fixtures in the last 30 days, Pirates have only had one away match in the last five”.
The last time the two giants met was in the DStv Premiership and Sundowns walked away with maximum points after a solitary goal from Brian Onyango.
And it is well known that encounters between ‘The Brazilians’ and ‘The Buccaneers’ bring the country to a standstill on the day of the game. “With all due respect to the remaining teams and all the teams that participated in the competition, I think that this match is a final before the final,” added Mokwena.
“Two good sides will take on each other. Pirates are strong opponents with good players. They have speed and good mobility in attack and tactical abilities and have done well in the last five games in all competitions.”
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi