Our football pundit gives his insight on how the Nedbank Cup semi-final between Maritzburg Utd and Sundowns will unfold on Sunday 22 April 2018.
Two of the top three teams in the country square off when champions-elect, Sundowns, travel to KwaZulu-Natal to take on Maritzburg United. This fixture comes just a few days before these two sides do battle in the Absa Premiership.
The pair have met twice already this season, with the Team of Choice knocking Sundowns out of the MTN8 by a 1-0 scoreline, with Sundowns repeating that result against United in the league. Fadlu Davids and Pitso Mosimane have been arguably two of the best managers in the division this season, and winning this tournament will definitely boost their chances of claiming the Coach of the Season award.
To Win (90 mins)
Maritzburg United 2/1
Mamelodi Sundowns 13/10
Maritzburg United have a huge advantage of playing their semi-final clash against Sundowns at home. Fadlu Davids has made the Harry Gwala Stadium a fortress this campaign, with the Team of Choice boasting the best defence at home – conceding just eight times in the league.
Maritzburg currently sit third on the log, which would grant them a place in next year’s CAF Confederations Cup. However, winning the Nedbank Cup would also grant the club’s first participation in a CAF tournament.
That shows what an immense job Davids has done at the helm, getting the best out of his players, which has resulted in the team’s success this season. Their brand of football has also been easy on the eye, with midfield prospect, Siphesihle Ndlovu, being the beating heart in the Team of Choice’s squad.
Ndlovu is almost certain to grab the Young Player of the Season award in the Absa Premiership, but you cannot rule United’s number eight out of claiming that award in the Nedbank Cup as well. He recently signed a new deal at the KZN-based side, which rules him out of a move to the likes of Masandawana next season.
When the draw for the semi-finals were finalised, everyone would imagine that Sundowns would be disappointed by playing their matchup away from home – or at least on a neutral ground. However, judging by the way the league has gone this season, Downs always fancy their chances on their travels, winning 10 of their 13 matches played on the road in the Absa Premiership.
In the Nedbank Cup, they’ve already went to the home of Cape Town City and walked away 2-1 victors, while their trip to Cape Town All Stars was slightly less challenging. Sundowns have been the best team in the land this season and that all comes down to the mastermind tactician, Pitso Mosimane.
When you have the league’s best coach at your disposal, winning the treble always seems like a possible target. This season is proving to be no different with the Brazilians edging closer to the Absa Premiership title, while they also have their eyes set on the CAF Champions League.
Percy Tau is on course to walk away with tons of accolades at the end of the season, and with the Sundowns maestro already contributing to 24 goals across all competitions (at the time of writing), you can never back against him being amongst the scoring sheet again.
Verdict: Mamelodi Sundowns (13/10)
With the talent that coach Mosimane has in his ranks, as well as the players’ mindsets, knowing that every game is as important as the last, shows that we are witnessing a great, great team.
The flair and trickery between both clubs will make this an exciting affair, but my money is on Sundowns. With Tau, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Gaston Sirino in superb form building up to the match, 13/10 seems a decent price for the soon-to-be South African champions.