Skip to main content

Benni believes AmaZulu are up to the challenge of facing Sundowns in opening game

AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy

AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy says that his side are well aware of the tough task that faces them when they come up against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the league opener on Friday night.

Ushutu finished as runners up behind the Brazilians in last seasons DStv Premiership and the top two teams from last year will face an acid test on Friday night as they face off at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in their first game of the league campaign.

Masadawana will be aiming to get off their title defence to a winning start after edging Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 last weekend, while McCarthy’s chargers will be hoping to bounce back from their MTN8 defeat against Cape Town City.

Speaking ahead of the encounter McCarthy admitted that his side is well aware of the task at hand but believes that his team have prepared well for the clash.

"In football, you have to play the best in the business, whether it's in your first game or your last game or your middle game," he told the club's media team on Wednesday.

"In order to do well, you have to play all of the tough ones and, unfortunately for us, the team that won the league – and we finished second – we play our opening match against each other.

"I think we had a decent preparation. We had far less interruptions and the players that came back from injuries and from self-isolating, they've all be integrating with the team so it was just trying to get them all up to speed in terms of fitness levels.

"It's been a much better preparation, these last few days, since the MTN 8 game versus Cape Town City and we have to bounce back from that defeat against City over the weekend.

"There are some good qualities and the boys look really psyched, they look up to the challenge, and we know it's going to be an interesting and very difficult encounter because Sundowns were the champions last season.

"They didn't lose that much of their championship team, they have only added more quality players so we know the task at hand is going to be very tough, but we don't shy away from that.

"We are just preparing ourselves in the best way we possibly can and hoping that the players will be up for the fight, and we know the difficulties [we can expect] – not having the ball, playing away from home – so we're going to have to work extremely hard, but that's football.

"In life, everything you want to achieve, you have to work hard for it, and playing against Sundowns is no different. We are going to work hard but we are also going to try and make life uncomfortable for them.

"We're hoping for the best possible outcome from this game. It's never easy playing the champions but we are optimistic and we think we can have some joy and some success, but we will see on Friday how ready and how well prepared we will be for them.

"Overall, up until now, I am very satisfied, I'm very happy with what the boys have given me. They have worked well and hopefully, they can put all their hard work from the training pitch all into perspective on the matchday come Friday."