Shu-Aib to re­mind Downs of the PSL

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ROD­NEY REINERS

NEW African foot­ball cham­pi­ons Mamelodi Sun­downs have been the flavour of the week. Re­turn­ing to South Africa from Egypt on Wed­nes­day, af­ter de­feat­ing Za­malek 3-1 on ag­gre­gate in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, the suc­cess­ful Pre­to­ria club has been lauded and cel­e­brated.

Sun­downs’ achieve­ment is the pin­na­cle of foot­ball glory on the con­ti­nent, but next up they face Cape Town City in a PSL fix­ture at Lof­tus to­mor­row (3.30pm kick­off).

For City, this is an op­por­tu­nity not only to gen­er­ate some much-needed im­prove­ment in their gen­eral play, but also to put one over a team who are now the best in Africa.

City goal­keeper Shu- Aib Wal­ters is fully aware of the enor­mity of the task they face, but he is qui­etly con­fi­dent they can go to Pre­to­ria and get some­thing pos­i­tive.

“We are ex­pect­ing a re­ally tough match,” the 34-year-old said. “Sun­downs will ob­vi­ously still be on a high af­ter win­ning the Caf Cham­pi­ons League, so I think we will have our work cut out.

“Sun­downs played on Thurs­day as well (they beat Polok­wane City 2-0 in a cup match), so we don’t re­ally know who’ll play against us. But I guess it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter… they have a big squad of play­ers that could prob­a­bly make the first team at any other PSL club.

“I’ve been read­ing up on the weather and it looks like it’s go­ing to be very hot in Pre­to­ria on Sun­day. That will add to the chal­lenge we face, but we will just have to be men­tally pre­pared and stick to the game plan and per­form within the struc­tures the coach wants us to play,” he added.

Wal­ters is orig­i­nally from Grassy Park and at­tended Plum­stead High. His ju­nior ca­reer started at Blue­bells be­fore he joined Clyde Pinelands in the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion, and then Vasco da Gama in the NFD.

It was at Vasco that his per­for­mances caught the eye of PSL club Bloem­fontein Celtic, who he joined in 2006. He then played for Mar­itzburg United be­fore trans­fer­ring to Mpumalanga Black Aces.

The jour­ney back home to the Mother City came about when John Comi­tis bought the PSL fran­chise of Black Aces and re­lo­cated the new team to the Cape. Wal­ters, be­cause he was born here, was al­ways go­ing to play an im­por­tant role in the tran­si­tion of the club.

“It wasn’t al­ways easy,” he said. “The move was dif­fi­cult, in that it was go­ing to be tough for some of the play­ers to adapt to the new sur­round­ings. Also, be­cause of the hype around the new club, there was a lot of at­ten­tion on the team.

“But a lot of work on the play­ers’ ad­just­ment was done be­hind the scenes and, af­ter that, we also got off to a good start with re­gard to re­sults. It’s gone well so far but, to be hon­est, I think we should have had at least two or three points more than we have at the mo­ment.”

City are in eighth po­si­tion on the PSL stand­ings, hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated eight points from six games. Sun­downs, in con­trast, have only played one league game – a draw – be­cause of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Cham­pi­ons League.

While that con­ti­nen­tal suc­cess is great for club and coun­try, as far as the PSL is con­cerned, the games are now go­ing to come thick and fast for the Brazil­ians, as they look to play catch-up.

To­mor­row, City want to re­mind Sun­downs that this is not the Cham­pi­ons League, this is the PSL where – be­cause of its un­pre­dictabil­ity – any team can emerge vic­to­ri­ous on any given day.

SHU-AIB WAL­TERS: Bon­ing up on the weather

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