Mamelodi Sundowns began their seven-game December stretch of games win a spirited one-all draw against Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday evening. The result continued Bafana Ba Style’s unbeaten start to the league season and took them to 31 points at the top of the table.
Speaking after the game, Coach Manqoba Mngqithi accepted the result and said the game was in line with the team’s preparations: “We’ve always known it was not going to be an easy match, Stellenbosch always gives us a tough time. We got some very good chances in the first half which I think we could have capitalized on.
“The game panned out the way we thought, but unfortunately the conditions [affected us] and caused the game to not flow. I thought when we got the equaliser we would gain control over the game but I think we still felt a little bit anxious. We ended up spoiling a few very good moments, at times when the wind was favouring us we ended up over-hitting one or two balls, but overall I think we did well but it’s not nice to drop points.”
The Brazilians welcomed Rivaldo Coetzee back to the starting line up after a few games out with an injury and Coach Mngqithi was complimentary of his midfield pivot: “I think Riva gave a good account of himself, we know what he can bring to us – we wanted him to control the game, and assist us in our build up play.”
Coach Manqoba also complimented the contribution of Lyle Lakay who was very instrumental on the evening: “Lyle played very well offensively, defensively I think there are a few things he can work on but I would not blame him I think the wind was also a factor [for all the defenders]. We are very happy with Lyle and the goal he scored made a very big difference to us.”
The Brazilians were without in-form Neo Maema and the coach reflected on the how his injury affected the team on the day: “Now that we have not won the match we would say we have missed him, he is a very important player in our team, but the boys that were given a chance today did well, we should not take anything away from them. [Neo] has settled in well and given us a lot of goals and assists and it was very unfortunate for him to pick up an injury.”
Downs will now have six more games to play before the end of the year as the PSL goes into an extended break before returning in February: With Sundowns having more games on their schedule compared to other teams, Coach Manqoba claimed that the period is not only challenging for the team from Pretoria but for everyone in the league:
“I don’t think there is anything different in terms of the games that we are going to play, it’s going to be tough for everyone. The games are coming thick and fast, and they require a lot of depth. Yes the matches we are going to play in this cycle are very challenging but they are the matches you want to play so that you can clear your fixtures afterwards.”