Cape Town - Sundowns centre-back Thabo Nthethe says his side's early exit from the Nedbank Cup that they triumphed in two years ago may prove to be a blessing in disguise.
The Brazilians were eliminated from the lucrative tournament by unfancied Golden Arrows with a 1-0 defeat at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Having won the Nedbank Cup title with a 4-3 victory over Ajax Cape Town in 2015, the Brazilians failed to defend the title last year when they lost 2-0 to rivals Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals.
Nthethe exclusively told Vodacom Soccer that he was disappointed with the result but looked for a silver lining.
He said: "One can't take anything away from Golden Arrows who showed character and more fighting spirit to win the game, but deep down I'm disappointed that we have been eliminated at such an early stage of the competition.
"This is one of the cup competitions we had really aimed to win this season, having failed to defend last season, but unfortunately it was never to be."
He added: "Well, maybe our early exit from Nedbank (Cup) can turn out to be a blessing in disguise so that we can focus fully on the Champions League and league title defence.
"We have to put our setback behind us and focus on our next league match on Thursday against SuperSport, and fight to redeem ourselves after going five league matches without a win.
"Like soldiers, we will keep on fighting because we still have a lot to play for despite our exit from Nedbank," added the 32-year-old experienced defender, who has struggled for game-time so far this season with seven starts and four substitute appearances in all competitions to date.
The fifth-placed Premiership title defenders will look to redeem themselves by locking horns with city rivals and fellow title contenders SuperSport United in a crucial league clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Thursday.
Kick off is at 18:00.