Mamelodi Sundowns are knocked out of the MTN8 Competition after picking up a 3-0 defeat in Polokwane against Orlando Pirates in the semi-finals second leg clash on Saturday afternoon. Masandawana fell away in the early stages of the encounter when the Buccaneers took an early lead through a questionable goal, Monnapule Saleng of Pirates put the ball back into play after it had crossed the line to connect with his teammate Kermit Erasmus who headed home in the eighth minute of first half. According to The Brazilians Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi, it was expected of Pirates to come out victorious considering the manner in which the game unfolded.
“I think we played the way we wanted to play, very unfortunate to concede the goal that we conceded very early in the match which I believe very strongly that it was outside of the goal line when Saleng put that ball in. Once Pirates score that early in the match then the game favors Pirates because they are a team that thrives in transitions and counter attacks, but we must also take a bit of the blame. I think we lost too many balls very cheap knowing the strength of the opposition in transition, you can not afford to risk possession like that because once they decide to go in a low block [then] a little bit more patience is wanted and a little bit more width to try and open them up slowly but patiently without rushing to force passes into areas or to clip balls to the opponents because on transition they always proved to be dangerous.”
“I must say, ever since Saleng started playing, their transitions are a little bit more clinical than before. If you look at this game today, I think they only had 3 or 4 shots on goal and all 3 are on target. In this match we had far too many shots at goals but unfortunately we did not get anything out of it and I think we were not clinical enough in the final third. But more than anything else I think the goal that they scored very early in the match made life very difficult for us because we always know that playing against Pirates then you must worry alot about your rest defense and worry alot about breaking that low block down and I think that’s where the game was lost.”
The defeat from the Soweto rivals leaves The Brazilians out of the race for another treble season in the Premier Soccer League, with the Tshwane giants left to defend the Nedbank Cup and the DStv Premiership title. Bafana Ba Style also suffered another injury blow to their growing list of players who are currently out of action, amongst the key players is Namibian international striker Peter Shalulile who has missed out of the CAF Champions League preliminary second round stages as well as the MTN8 second leg encounter. Downs Coach acknowledged the absence of their tallysman and the impact it has on the squad, he said:
“We would be lying when we are saying we are not missing Peter [and] that is why we tried the best we can not to expose it to everyone that he’s out, because we know everybody knows how dependent we are in his ability to finish our chances and also to cause a lot of threats. [Shalulile] gives us a chance from the first line of defense with his high press and speed, that to a certain extent had an effect on the whole team.”
“We were consoling ourselves with the number of goals that we scored prior to this match in three matches, but we knew for a fact that at some point if we don’t take our chances we might be exposed that we don’t have a player of Peter Shalulile’s caliber.” Concluded Coach Manqoba.
Mamelodi Sundowns return to action on Tuesday, 25 October in the DStv Premiership at Harry Gwala Stadium against Maritzburg United. Kick off is at 19H30.