Few followers of the DStv Premiership are likely to give Maritzburg United a chance of denting Mamelodi Sundowns’ title bid in Pretoria on Wednesday, but Tebogo Tlolane says that having self-belief and being industrious may help the “Team of Choice” return with something from the challenging fixture.
Their luggage, claims the clear-spoken midfielder, includes the age-old principle of giving their more illustrious opponents proper respect without having too much fear of them, which could result in a completely one-sided affair.
“It is a big game, especially coming up against such a big team with good players. We know what to do and we go to this game focused on getting three points. We are not going there just thinking we are going to lose,” Tlolane said on Tuesday.
“Preparations have gone well, after a mixed result where we felt we should have won (1-1 against Swallows at home last Friday).
“We know we need points; whether it is three or one, we just need points on the day at this point of the season. We got a draw against Sundowns in the first round, but in football everything is possible.
“But we take nothing away from the opponent we are playing. Obviously they are a team with great players and we have to respect that. But when it comes to football, it is what happens on the day that counts.”
Of course, both teams are in a rush to get points in this closing phase of the league campaign, but for different reasons.
The sooner Maritzburg confirm their place in the league for next season, the sooner they can start planning for that.
For Sundowns, focusing on the Caf Champions League will become easier when their position at the summit of the DStv Premiership can’t be overhauled mathematically.
Added Tlolane: “We are going there fully focused and we also know what we are capable of. We just have to believe in ourselves, to be honest, and give it our all — and we will see after 90 minutes. We only have 90 minutes.
“After the game against Swallows we were a bit disappointed, but we were also aware that we were playing a top-four team, who only lost once all season. But now we forget about and are fully focused on Sundowns.
“Football is something we enjoy and to go onto the pitch is something we love, so we just have to take confidence from the point we got against Swallows and try to turn them into three.
“If not, it’s always a chance to do better in the next game. We are going out there and will work as a team and hope for the best possible result.”
The best possible outcome will be on the minds of all the sides in the league because of there being “battles” at the top, middle and bottom of the standings.
Thursday sees Pirates host Leopards in another Premiership match that had to be rescheduled earlier in the season to make way for Caf inter-club fixtures.