Cup tie reprieve for Golden Arrows

2014-03-21 00:00

TUESDAY night’s 1-0 loss at Moroka Swallows has left Golden Arrows closer than ever to relegation, bottom of the PSL table and seven points away from safety with only nine matches left this season. But tomorrow they will have a reprieve from what has been a disastrous league campaign with a Nedbank Cup last 16 tie against a classy Mamelodi Sundowns at King Zwelithini Stadium.

There is no doubt that caretaker coach Shaun Bartlett would happily sacrifice a place in the quarter-finals for PSL status, but a win against Pitso Mosimane’s expensively assembled squad of local superstars could be just the catalyst needed to create a belief that Arrows can knock over the best in the league ahead of the season run in.

“A win would be a major confidence boost for everybody at the club,” Bartlett conceded. “The Nedbank Cup is also a priority for us and we want to stay in it for as long as possible. I believe that the more games we play the better we will get.”

There has been little to celebrate for Abafana Bes’thende — they have only won four of their 21 league matches to date and shipped an astonishing 38 goals — but they advanced to this stage of the Nedbank Cup with a 1-0 win over fellow PSL strugglers Polokwane City last month.

Tomorrow night’s task will be far tougher than that, though, and Bartlett is fully aware of the star power that awaits his charges. “Everybody knows that they [Sundowns] are not a strong team, but a strong squad,” the former Bafana Bafana striker said.

“We need to make sure that we are on top of our own game. Our first priority must be to defend well and then we must create a few chances of our own.”

Turning his attention to the league, Bartlett remained optimistic despite the current situation looking extremely bleak.

“There is not a single player in this squad who doesn’t believe that we can stay up. Nobody is thinking about relegation, we are all thinking about staying in this league,” he said.

“There is no use giving up now. There are still nine games to go and we will keep fighting, but we have to start picking up points soon.”

There are no injury concerns for Arrows, and all eyes are on strikers Festus Mbewe and Christopher Katongo, who have both looked promising since joining the club in January.

“I think in the case of both of them all that has been missing is that first goal to get the ball rolling,” said Bartlett.

Tomorrow night’s match kicks off at 8.15 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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