Having had their league title taken away by Kaizer Chiefs the night before, Sundowns should have been depressed. That though was not the case, the Brazilians being in jovial mood as they went through their training paces.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele, in particular, was in cock-a-hoop – the defender playing about with a camera after the session.
“I am the official Sundowns photographer and I only take pictures of journalists,” he joked, before adding that he could safely hang up his boots because he’s already found his post soccer career.
Many would even suggest he goes for a television job, Mphahlele coming across very eloquently and with confidence during the press conference to look ahead to tomorrow’s Nedbank Cup semi-final clash against National First Division (NFD) side Vasco da Gama.
“Earlier on, someone was surprised as to why we were happy this morning given that we had just failed to defend our league title,” he said “But I told him that our season was not over just because we lost the championship.
“Of course being second means we’re the first ones to lose and that is not good. And we accept that we did not do enough to defend the title.
“But we cannot let that get to us. We still have something to play for and we will do everything we can to win this match (against Vasco) and get to the final.”
Once there, Sundowns will work their socks off to capture the country’s premier club knockout trophy.
“We can’t afford to finish without silverware. We want to win the Nedbank Cup. Most people have no idea who Vasco are because they are in the NFD. But we know them. We make it our homework to study our opponents, even those in the lower division and we know that whoever is in the semi-final deserves to be there.”
And for that reason, Sundowns will not be thinking they just have to turn up at the Lucas Moripe Stadium and be guaranteed passage into the final.
“Games like these are not easy,” said goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. “It is not easy playing teams from the first division. So we have to respect them, but not too much.”
If anything, surrendering their title to Chiefs as early as they did – with three matches left to spare – seems to have galvanised Sundowns and inspired them to go out firing.
And they will look to do that tomorrow against a Vasco side coach Pitso Mosimane essentially described as a tough nut to crack.
“They are like Tuks (Pretoria University), very hard to break down.”
Yet if there’s any team that can penetrate even the strongest of defences, it is Sundowns who have arguably the league’s most potent attack – their failure to hold on to their league title notwithstanding. - Saturday Star
Original source: It is not all doom and gloom for Downs