MAMELODI Sundowns have scored an impressive 11 goals leading up to the Telkom Knockout final and are in great form right now, but Bernard Parker says Kaizer Chiefs are favourites to lift the trophy because they are cup specialists.
Parker says Amakhosi have put the MTN8 defeat to Ajax Cape Town in September behind them and they are ready to upset a Sundowns team on a run of 10 matches without defeat. The clubs meet at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban tomorrow.
“There is much more pressure [after losing the MTN8 final]. We cannot lose for the second time in a final in the space of three months,” Parker said yesterday. “We go crazy for cups at Chiefs. Training has been crazy because everyone wants to play. Yes, we are favourites because we are a cup specialist team.
We cannot let it slip through our hands.” Amakhosi, who beat Sundowns on penalties in the same competition in 2007, are looking for an early goal to unsettle their opponents. “If we get an early goal, they will be under pressure to attack and they will open up,” Parker said. “We just have to focus and win our duals as individuals.
We want to do it for coach Steve [Komphela]. It will be massive for him to win his first cup.” A man who will have to keep a close eye on Parker is Sundowns’ central defender, Thabo Nthethe. He captained Bloemfontein Celtic to success over Sundowns in the competition three years ago. “It was nice to beat a big team like Sundowns in the final when I was still at Celtic,” he said.
“Now I am here and I am looking forward to winning it again. We have the quality to win this game.” Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is relying on Nthethe and his central defensive partner, Wayne Arendse, to stop Amakhosi’s attackers.
Midfielder Bongani Zungu would love nothing more than to add to his medal collection at Sundowns before leaving for Europe at the end of the season. Now in his third season with Sundowns, the 23-year-old says he has got quite a few offers on the table from various leagues across Europe .
“It might be my last season. It would mean a lot to win the trophy,” he said after a training session at Chloorkop yesterday. “Going abroad, from what I have seen in the national team, really makes a player improve. That’s what I am aiming to do, to move and grow. I watch Andile [Jali] and I can see that he has grown.
I looked at what Benni [McCarthy] did and I need that. “I read an article on Yaya [Toure]. He said as African players we lack ambition. It takes a lot of courage to be there. So I am ready.”