CHICKEN Inn coach Joey Antipas is treading cautiously ahead of their Caf Champions League preliminary round match against South African Premier Soccer League side Mamelodi Sundowns at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow.
BY THANDIWE MOYO
Sundowns are expected to touch down at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport this afternoon.
Antipas said with Sundowns’ impressive form in mind, his team will approach the match with a lot of caution.
“It being our first match we have to go out there and play a cautious game,” Antipas said. “We cannot go out and charge at them like Red Indians. We got to play it cautious because if we go out there and take them head-on, Sundowns are a very brilliant side they are going to expose us. I’m not saying we are going out there to park the bus, but we are going out there with a cautious approach,” said the championship-winning coach.
Sundowns have been on fire in their domestic league and their latest victims were Orland Pirates who were beaten 2-1 at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat scored for Sundowns, while Mpho Makola scored for Pirates.
“It is a big concern that Sundowns are like a house on fire playing consistently and they have a very good squad. We just have to knuckle down and try and close their supply lines and try and be strong in defence. Not only in defence, but strong as a unit,” Antipas said.
He said his side was likely to give it their all although their physical preparedness was questionable.
“It’s good to play a team like Sundowns, it gives the guys more energy to do well. Since Sundowns are top of the log in SA and are doing very well, so as a player you get yourself psyched up to try and do well in that game, so I believe mentally we are okay. Where we are suffering is game time and physical preparedness,” he added.
The former Motor Action coach said he was aware of the threat that Sundowns forwards would pose in the match, but said their strategy is to shut down their supply.
“Those guys are good ball players and they have a good supply line. What we have to try and do is cut out the supply line because I believe if we cut out the supply line those three [Castro, Billiat and Keagan Dolly] are not really ball winners or hard workers, they thrive on good supply, we can then try and cut out the supply line, it would be good for us,” he said.
Dubbed CBD, Castro, Billiat and Dolly have been the driving force behind Sundowns’ success. Antipas said they have a full contingent of players in the side and anyone could be in the squad tomorrow.
“This is the first time that we have had a full complement of players. Players from the national team are back, and players from injury, are also back so selection wise we have a full complement to choose from except Teenage Hadebe and Clemence Matawu who are not yet match fit.
“We would love more preparation, but unfortunately that’s the name of the game, we have to play our Champions League game without playing league games so we are more or less 50/50 in terms of physical preparedness and match fitness. I know our match fitness is still down due to our season compared to our opponents who have gone halfway through the season and are in good shape,” he said.