Nedbank Cup Tactical Preview: Sundowns vs SuperSport United_1

Saturday’s Tshwane derby between Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United in the Nedbank Cup last 32 could be decided in the engine room.

STOPPING SUNDOWNS’ KEKANA & JALI


SuperSport United are likely to focus on trying to stop Sundowns’ supply to their creative front four by using aggressive closing down of their supply line – Hlompho Kekana and Andile Jali. In the recent league meeting between these sides in January, Kaitano Tembo had Sipho Mbule and Dean Furman push high onto Downs’ deeper duo.


This had the effect of exposing makeshift defensive midfielder, Siyabonga Nhlapo against Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino and Sibusiso Vilakazi. They operated in the space to the sides of the lone holding player, but in areas too shallow for the SuperSport centre backs to follow them.


For this game, Furman is likely to revert to the defensive midfield role, and Teboho Mokoena – suspended for that league meeting three weeks ago – is back to add quality and energy in closing down. Tembo may be tempted to leave Mbule out after a slight dip in form and start the energetic 22-year-old Ugandan, Moses Waiswa as his third midfielder.

TO GABUZA OR NOT TO GABUZA


Another big call for SuperSport is whether or not to start target man, Thamsanqa Gabuza or to use him as an impact substitute. If he starts, it may mean Bradley Grobler has to reprise his narrow, left-sided role from the early weeks of the season and that means a less-balanced side.


Most likely is a bench role for the forward, with him coming on to provide fresh impetus in the final 30 minutes of the match. It’s expected that Kudakwashe Mahachi and Ghampani Lunga will play in wide areas, due to the lack of defensive nous displayed by Evans Rusike against Tebogo Langerman in recent clashes between these sides.

MABOE SELECTED TO PRESS?


Up front for Sundowns it looks likely to be Gaston Sirino alongside one of Sibusiso Vilakazi, Lebohang Maboe or fit-again Mauricio Affonso. All three players offer very different skill sets, but perhaps this game is best suited to the energetic high pressing of Maboe. He has struggled to hit his stride this season, but looked sharper in the win against Wydad Casablanca last time out and may be set for a strong finish to this season.

THREE INTO TWO AT CB


Pitso Mosimane will have a big call in this game in central defence if Mosa Lebusa is fit to feature. Alongside Motjeka Madisha, the former Ajax Cape Town man has excelled this season. The duo bring speed, ability to defend counters and comfort defending in the wide areas to the table, but Ricardo Nascimento is now back from a long-term groin injury to add calm, experience and ball-playing ability. This won’t be an easy selection for the coach, either in this game or going forward during the league title run-in and the latter stages of the cup competitions.


Predicted lineups:

Sundowns:


(A narrow 4-4-2 shape with wide midfielders coming inside, fullbacks providing the width and two holding midfielders)


Mweene – Ngcongca, Madisha, Nascimento, Langerman – Morena, Jali, Kekana, Zwane – Sirino, Maboe.

SuperSport:


(A 4-3-3 structure with one holding midfielder, two box-to-box number eights and two genuine wingers)


Williams – Nhlapo, Fleurs, Daniels, Bhasera – Waiswa, Furman, Mokoena – Lunga, Grobler, Mahachi.