Telkom Knockout: Sundowns out to end Dikwena whammy

Mamelodi Sundowns have a score to settle with Platinum Stars, and their Telkom Knockout semifinal showdown on Sunday provides the perfect battleground for unresolved issues.

Dikwena have been a bogey team for the Premiership giants in cup competitions, eliminating them from a tournament in each of the last three seasons.

On a mission to end the voodoo, Sundowns captain Alje Schut said they had been preparing vigorously to overcome the Dikwena hurdle this time around.

“We want to win against them obviously. They are a very determined team and have great mental strength,” Schut said ahead of the clash at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

“They are able to focus on a game and they know us very well.”

Having last won a cup competition in 2008, Schut said a final berth would put them on the cusp of ending their drought.

“It’s only two wins away and let’s go for it. They are a hard-running team, gutsy with quality upfront and solid in defence.

“The form we are in at the moment is quite good but we have to do better and raise our performance.”

Meanwhile, Stars captain Vuyo Mere said previous favourable results against the Brazilians would count for nothing on match day.

“We have put those wins behind us. We are going to forget about the past and prepare for the match, giving them the respect they need,” Mere said.

As defending champions, Stars were fully aware that if they wanted to retain their title, they would have to beat some of the best teams in the country, he said.

“We also have players who know how to handle games of this magnitude and that is what we are paid to do.”

After a huge cash windfall last season from their double triumph the players were motivated by the added financial bonus if Stars performed well, Mere said.

“The guys know what’s at stake and we want to go all the way and defend our title.”

Mere backed Dikwena’s marquee signing from the Buccaneers, striker Ndumiso Mabena, to be an influential factor in their quest for a spot in the final.

“We all saw from the first couple of games in the league that Mabena is a great player,” Mere said.

“He is an incredible talent. I think he needed the confidence. There are players who need to be told how good they are.”

Mere felt Stars had provided Mabena with the platform to showcase his talent.

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