Coaches count their gains

2008-09-22 00:00

BOTH coaches were yesterday talking up the benefits that have accrued to their teams by the postponement of the MTN 8 final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at King’s Park in Durban to tonight.

At the final press conference in Durban, Chiefs’ Muhsin Ertugral and Sundowns’ Trott Moloto were both counting the benefits of the delay from Saturday, due to a waterlogged pitch. But one had the impression it was the Amakhosi boss who was just that little more relieved to have a few extra days’ preparation.

For Moloto, the delay has allowed Sundowns to nurse back to fitness the hugely experienced striker Sibusiso Zuma, and the coach said the former Danish league player of the year is available for tonight’s game.

Moloto said his side are looking forward to notching up more silverware on the ground where they won the King’s Charity Cup friendly tournament two weeks ago.

“The King’s Cup was a good experience for us and we adjusted well to the conditions. This is the right moment for us to pull it through tomorrow,” Moloto said.

“Physically, I think we’ve succeeded in putting more strength in the players with the extra days we have had to prepare. Mentally we have come with a programme to worry about the cup for the day, then shift the focus back to the league.”

For Chiefs, the three days’ delay has allowed Ertugral’s side to put behind them the controversy that raged last week from the coach’s war of words with Maritzburg United boss Gordon Igesund.

Ertugral was concerned with the physical nature of his team’s 3-2 defeat against United in Chatsworth last Sunday.

When the final was delayed on Saturday afternoon, Ertugral decided to send his players back to Johannesburg and give them a day and night off on Sunday.

“We took a decision to immediately get back to Johannesburg, get the boys off and let them stay with their families, then come together this morning [Monday] with a light training session before returning to Durban. Also, last week was a bit heavy for us.

“And you could see today that the players were fresh mentally and that the new build-up to the game was the better decision. Five days in the camp would not have been wise,” Ertugral said.

Chiefs’ defeat against United was their third in succession in league and cup matches, but Moloto said he does not expect the poor run to affect Amakhosi’s approach tonight.

“Chiefs have been in big finals and have won many trophies. I don’t think their current form is something to go by. They will definitely be coming into the game very strongly,” he said.

The Sundowns coach said that his team have come up with a strategy to counter Chiefs’ Venezuelan danger striker José Torrealba, who is returning from suspension. Torrealba left Downs under a cloud a season ago after his signature was forged on a renewed contract.

“The good thing is that, with Torrealba being from Sundowns, most of my players know his strengths and weaknesses, and we have taken advice from the senior players on how to counter him,” Moloto said.

Ertugral said Arthur Zwane will undergo a late fitness test today to see if he sits on the bench, while veteran Thabo Mooki is also set for the bench.

This leaves youngster Michael Nkambule as a potential option for Ertugral to replace Tinashe Nengomasha in central midfield, the influential hardman having still not returned from the funeral of his sister in his native Zimbabwe.

Kickoff: 8.15 pm — live on SABC1 and SuperSport 4

More on the MTN 8 final in today’s Football Diski pull-out.

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