Mnguni believes the MTN8 semi-final between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns will be won in midfield
Posted: 26 August 2011 Time: 15:57
Former Mamelodi Sundowns captain Themba Mnguni believes the MTN8 semi-final between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday will be won in the middle of the park.
Mnguni, now 38 and coaching in the Vodacom League, played in some of the two legged Rothmans Cup matches between Orlando Pirates and Sundowns in the 1990's and recalls how they used to triumph in a similar situation that the current Downs team finds themselves in. In the 1997 Rothmans Cup semi-final, Sundowns and Pirates drew 2-2 in the first leg. With the second leg ending in a goalless draw Downs advanced to the Final on the away goal rule. Mnguni played a big role in defence in both matches and admits that he employed all legitimate time wasting tactics to buy time as his team held on to the 2-2 draw in the first leg. Again in 1999, Pirates and Downs were in the Rothmans Cup semi-final. Pirates scored a crucial away goal to win 1-0 in Pretoria in the first leg but the tables were turned as Downs won the second leg match 3-1 at FNB Stadium. "The difference between the situation now and ours was that it was in our hands. On Sunday, what Sundowns need to do is to score an early goal so that it becomes in their hands and once it is in their hands then they will know what to do.
_quote "Look at the first leg match, Downs lost focus in the dying minutes and conceded a late goal and this is what took it out of their hands. All is not lost for them because they looked more convincing than Pirates." Mnguni says the midweek matches clearly show that Downs are favourites but they still need to up their work rate and stay focused. "They demolished Swallows on Wednesday while Pirates were very disappointing against Maritzburg United. The Benni McCarthy red card also does not do them any good while the Teko Modise factor will also have a say on the day. "This match will be won in the middle of the park where Teko Modise and Musa Nyatama operate. Modise is regaining his old form and also being called to Bafana Bafana will motivate him a lot. "Nyatama is in great form having scored in two successive matches, while Pirates midfield is not at their best. Jali is not at his best and he loses a lot of possession while he is also not at his best with his passing. This gives Downs midfield an edge on this one. "Benni is out with suspension, while Mphela has shown that he can do the damage if he is let loose. I do know that it may be very dangerous to judge using only one match but there is nothing in the Pirates team that showed that they will triumph," he adds.