Shu-Aib to remind Downs of the PSL
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