Mamelodi Sundowns returned to their winning ways in a battle for points against Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday evening. The Brazilians, who lost their second game of the season before coming into this battle, move up to the first place in the DStv Premiership after brushing off the Chili Boys by only a goal, Downs co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi reflects on the challenges they faced in Gqeberha.
“We expected a very tough match, Chippa has been dominant in set pieces and they’ve scored quite a lot of goals in that space. We were worried that if the game is played in our half and they create a lot of set pieces they might cause problems for us, that is why we played the game more in the opposition half a lot to try to put them under pressure. But credit must be given to their goalkeeper, I think he was exceptional today, when you have 91% ball possession in the final third and the opposition only has 9, that says something about the game, but at the end of the day with all the shots at goals and everything that we tried, we only scored one goal at the death of the match.”
“To be honest I think it was a very strong performance from Chippa with their low block and also very good transitional moments which nearly caused problems for us, and that is expected honestly. Our rest defense is not in the right space and we would always be caught, but otherwise I think it was an interesting match for spectators, but not so interesting for us as coaches because we believe that from the number of chances and the work that we’ve done, we should’ve had at least more than one goal. We should’ve probably scored earlier than finding ourselves in a situation where we had to dig very deep to find the result.”
Masandawana have scored only 12 goals in their campaign so far, a figure which is regarded to be low because of the Champions tendency to score significantly a large amount of goals. The defending Champions have played seven league matches and faced a toil in the final third of opponents due to the defensive structures that have been set up against them, Coach Manqoba noted the hassles his troops will be facing in their title defense, he said: “It’s what we always anticipate that we are going to have more than 80% of matches played with a very low block, and this is what’s been happening throughout the seasons and sometimes even some of the big teams resort to this strategy against us.”
“We are always preparing our team for that and we do create the opportunities that we want to create because our wish always is to break the game down very early, which is what I think is what happened in our game against Kaizer Chiefs whereby very early in the game we’ve already put them on the sword and now they must come out. But if you don’t score those early chances that you get – if you bury one of those chances then the game changes its complexion and it becomes very difficult for the team that had planned to sit back when they now have to open out and come to you.”
“And that is why it becomes easier that when you score you may end up scoring a lot of goals because now the strategy that was being prepared throughout the week was always to sit back and make life difficult, but that type of a game requires a lot of courage and character from our team and a lot of patience not to always look for that final pass. I think the second half was a little bit better with an extra touch and an extra pass to try and find openings and frustrate the opposition because the ball is always moving and I think we did that very well, but unfortunately when you’re not scoring the game looks like it’s very difficult.”