‘We can topple Sundowns,’ says Mnisi as Royal take aim at Brazilians’ dominance
After a successful maiden season in the DStv Premiership, Royal AM are aiming to take their ambitions up a notch by going toe-to-toe with Mamelodi Sundowns in the next campaign and proving their doubters wrong.
Sundowns have utterly dominated the DStv Premiership, wrapping up their fifth successive title last month with four games still to play.
The Brazilians are also on the verge of completing a clean sweep of domestic trophies when they meet Marumo Gallants in the final of the Nedbank Cup on May 28. They have already won the MTN8 and Premiership.
Royal, owned by a Durban-based business-person Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize, have been the surprise package of the 2021-22 season, having bought their way into the top-tier by purchasing the franchise of Bloemfontein Celtic two days before the start of the campaign.
They fell short of denying Sundowns the treble when they lost 2-1 to the Brazilians in the Nedbank Cup semifinals. In the league they are in third place and on the verge of qualification for next season's Caf Champions League (second place finish) or Confederation Cup (third).
Royal CEO Sinky Mnisi believes their run this season proves that the Durban club are not in the big time to fight for survival or be content with a top-eight finish.
“Our aim was to bring a different dimension to SA football and I believe we have done that, and everybody can see it,” Mnisi said.
“There’s absolutely no reason Royal AM can’t challenge Sundowns. I strongly believe Sundowns can be toppled. We are prepared to fight hammer and tongs to make sure that we do that.”
Mnisi, who has been a football administrator for over 30 years, is aware many people expect Royal to suffer a “second season syndrome” and battle in 2022-23, as has been the case with other new top-flight teams such as Swallows FC.
Swallows did well in their first season back in the big time, but this season are in danger of being relegated back to the GladAfrica Championship.
Reports have suggested financial struggles are affecting Swallows. Royal are one of the richest clubs in the PSL through their wealthy owner Mkhize.
“You know with me, I always make predictions when we start. In the GladAfrica when we started, I told the chairlady [Mkhize] that we were going to win the league,” said the former Highlands Park and Thembisa Classic administrator.
“And when we started in the DStv Premiership and brought the two teams [Bloemfontein Celtic and Royal] together in two days, and I told everybody who cared that we were going to be in the top eight.
“Everybody knows about that and as a matter of fact, I think we have overachieved by not only being in the top eight, but there’s a strong possibility that we might be going to Africa.
“We are more than ready for that challenge. But already there’s a pact that has been put against us. Initially they said we are going to be relegated and they said we are not going to make the top eight, now we have made the top 8 and we might end up second on the log and the goalposts are being shifted.
“They are now saying, ‘No, they are not going to last, next season they will be like Swallows and the other teams that performed well in the first season but in the second season they couldn’t do anything.’ We are more than ready for that challenge.”
Royal were on the verge of promotion as GladAfrica (second-tier) champions for the 2020-21 season before an arbitration decision awarded points to Sekhukhune United ahead of the final round.
Royal are away to Golden Arrows at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban on Saturday (3pm) in their second-last Premiership match.
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