MAMELODI Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has given Royal Bafokeng Stadium the thumb up ahead of their Nedbank Cup final against Marumo Gallants on Saturday (6pm).
Mngqithi previously had concerns over the state of the pitch at the Royal Bafokeng arena, where they hosted Al Hilal from Sudan in a Caf Champions League group match earlier this season.
Downs, who normally use the Lucas Moripe Stadium and Loftus Versfeld for their home matches, couldn’t do so in the Champions League this season as both venues failed to meet Caf guidelines and standards.
As a result, they ended up having to use venues like the FNB Stadium as well as the Royal Bafokeng Stadium - which Mngqithi was not happy with because of the state of the pitch at the North West venue.
But with the final of the Ke Yona set to be staged at the same venue, Mngqithi has clarified his earlier concerns over the venue, adding that conditions have since improved and will make for a good final.
“To be honest, I think it’s important for me to clear the air on this one because it might have left a sour taste with people thinking we were saying that Royal Bafokeng is not a very good as a pitch,” said Mngqithi.
“But at that time of the season, if you remember it was the rainy season and that’s not a pitch that is used regularly so it was very soft underfoot. And with the rains, we realised that there’s a risk of potential injuries when we played Al-Hilal there.
“I have to say, however, that the quality of the pitch has always been good. It’s a very good stadium, but we were just worried that during a rainy season the pitch would not hold up because it’s not used regularly. We only decided to leave after we saw that there were too many players slipping and falling and we didn’t want to risk injuries. But every coach will be excited to play at Royal Bafokeng, it’s normally a good pitch and we are looking forward to playing on that pitch. We are optimistic that the pitch will not have the issues that it had when we last played there.”
Sundowns will be eager to wrap up what has been a successful season by adding the final piece of silverware to their increasingly impressive and glittering trophy cabinet.
They have lifted the DStv Premiership and the MTN8 this season and will now hope to complete a domestic treble by clinching the Ke Yona Cup – ensuring a clean sweep domestically.
Their Caf Champions League elimination in the semi-finals at the hands of Angolan outfit Petro de Luanda remains their only disappointment this season.