MAMELODI Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi hopes to have all his players who were down with influenza ready to start preparing for the Nedbank Cup final against Marumo Gallants at Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
The DStv Premiership champions beat Royal AM 3-2 in their last league game of the season at Chatsworth Stadium on Monday without key players like Themba Zwane, Andile Jali and Reyaad Pieterse who were sick.
Mngqithi and co-coach Rhulani Mokwena had only 17 players to choose their starting line-up as majority of players got sick after their initial fixture between the two teams was abandoned last Saturday in the 26th minute due to heavy rain in KZN.
Said Manqoba: “We were strict apart with more than 20 players (sick) due to the outbreak of flu. It's still touch and go to some of them, but most of them are looking good. We are very optimistic that they will be part of the team when we start to prepare for the final.”
Manqoba hailed the players who were not in the starting line-up on Saturday like Kennedy Mweene and Gaston Sirino for a great performance on Monday to help swing the game in their favour.
“The players that were there gave a very good account of themselves and they pushed very hard to make sure at the end we win the match. We are proud of players that we have, and they fight because we told them adversity is a breakfast for champions. The fact we are having all these issues must not deter us from fighting for a result and our players never failed us.”
Manqoba hailed Downs fans for rallying behind the team in good and bad times to ensure they win their fifth consecutive league title.
“I want to thank the yellow nation. They were behind us even when they could not come into the Stadium due to Covid-19 (regulations). But they made sure to support the team even outside (stadium) beating that drum we could feel it inside the pitch, that for me was real support. There are moments where we did not win the match, but they were there with us.”