JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns will be out to continue their dominance in South African football when they battle it out against Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank Cup final tonight.
Last week the Brazilians were crowned the Absa Premiership champions for a third season on the trot.
It was their 10th title in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era. Tonight they will be aiming for their third trophy of the season when they meet Celtic at Orlando Stadium.
Sundowns have mastered the art of managing situations. Last week, they knew that they needed to win against Black Leopards and stroll to victory with goals if they were to be crowned Absa Premiership champions. They did exactly that.
It was an identical scenario at the start of the season when they showed character in coming from behind to beat Maritzburg United in the Telkom
Knockout final at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Sundowns had to manage the situation in 2016 in the CAF Champions League final in the second leg after scoring three goals in the first leg. Again they reigned supreme. The same approach and mentality will be required from Sundowns to win the elusive treble.
An early goal will be of paramount importance for Pitso Mosimane’s men. Celtic haven’t been in a final in a while. If Sundowns can score early Celtic will be forced to come out guns blazing in search of an equaliser which might leave them open at the back.
An early strike might lead to Celtic’s demise on the day but they have shown that they are no pushovers.
The presence and chemistry of the duo of Themba “Mshishi” Zwane and Gaston Sirino will be key for Sundowns. The pair has combined well and deliver when it matters the most.
Zwane is the main man in that Sundowns well oiled machine. He gives life to Sundowns.
In as much as Sundowns always prefer to play on the front foot, they can also be vulnerable at the back. The Brazilians will have to be resolute at the back.
Celtic are ruthless in front of goals. Sundowns have to work on their level of awareness at the back in terms of covering half space between centre backs and full-backs.
Celtic attack with pace and flair.
The likes of Hlompho Kekana and Rivaldo Coetzee will also be key in terms of helping in defence. Sundowns have every reason to believe that they can do it at the expense of Celtic. It is game on.