Mamelodi Sundowns’ seventeen games unbeaten streak in the DStv Premiership comes to an end after a 1-0 loss against AmaZulu FC on Monday evening.
Masandawana suffered their first loss of the season since opening their campaign in August, the defending champions have without a doubt set new standards in the domestic league with their recent excellent performances. Downs co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi outlined the battle at the Jonsson Kings Park stadium against Usuthu in a media press conference.
“To be honest I don’t think today the team was at their sharpest point, we were a little bit lethargic in our play, we lost too many balls and too many balls were lost trying to play one touch which may suggest a little bit of anxiety in some instances. We never really put the foot down and took full dominance of the game, in as much as they were putting a low block and at times defending in the second phase, or in zone two. We never really imposed ourselves the way we normally do.”
“We played a more possessional type of football than penetrative type of football and we demanded that even at half time, but we unfortunately found ourselves in a situation where we were caught on transition and that’s one area which we normally emphasise and in most of the games that we play we always face the same challenge of teams breaking out in transition.”
The Brazilians are the only team in the Premier Soccer League to have lost only two games in the 2021 calendar year, their recent loss against Usuthu has left little, if not, no dent to their domination as they remain top of the log with forty three points and sixteen points ahead of second placed Orlando Pirates.
“One is very proud of the team, I think the boys have fought very hard, they’ve made life very difficult for many teams to punish us. We were also caught today, we were a little bit of lapse in concentration in terms of our rest defense but even if this game went all the way and it was a draw, we would not say it was a bad performance, but we would still feel a little bit unhappy that maybe because of the game that we played against Pirates took a lot from the team. We gave it our all and unfortunately today, which is a hindsight because it’s not something that you can see before the match as to how the team is going to show up in the game. I don’t think we were as fresh as we normally are, we were not as incisive as we would want to see, we lost far too many balls in wrong areas and exposed ourselves to counter attacks.”
Bafana Ba Style were forced to make a substitution within twenty-minutes of the opening half after their midfielder Rivaldo Coetzee succumbed to what seemed like a hamstring injury. Coach Manqoba suspects that these are the signs of the team’s recent successive performances that have given them little time to recuperate.
“The injury of Riva is also a testimony to probably the load that we’ve had over the past few weeks because we’ve never really had a break and we’ve been having matches back-to-back, high intensity matches [and we are] expected to get a result. One game in mind is the game of Baroka FC, we may be looking at the Pirates game because it was a big match with a lot at stake, but the game against Baroka for me is the one that took a lot from the team considering that the team played the whole second half with one man out after Kermit’s [Erasmus] red card. We were still expected to play the Pirates game immediately thereafter which we had to make sure we go through because that was a six pointer.” said coach Manqoba.
The Tshwane giants set a new DStv Premiership record of 13 clean sheets in a row, they have collected more man of the match trophies this season more than any other club and the coaching department have also received recognition twice in a row for thor team’s grand display in the new season. Masandawana are one of the teams that will finish their first round of the season having played a massive nineteen games before heading into the Christmas break.
Coach Manqoba said that he is happy with the amount of games that his team has played as this will pave the way for the club to prepare for the other competitions that await in the new year:
“At this stage it’s very difficult to be sure on what’s going to happen because everything is very tight, but one must never take away the work that the players have put forward, they’ve done very well from the beginning up until now and we still believe that they still have a fight within themselves. The truth of the matter is that inasmuch as this programme is a little bit heavy for us because we are playing far too many matches in a very short space of time, on the other side we are appreciative of the fact that by the time we start in February we would have played maybe four matches or more than what we normally play in a normal season which takes a little bit of a load on the other side.”
“We know very well that the teams that we are competing with don’t have these other competitions which we are playing in, and maybe they will have a little bit of freshness and an edge to come at us, which is why it’s still very important for us to focus more on our processes and what we would like to achieve in each and every cycle that we are playing.”
Mamelodi Sundowns will be in action for the last time in 2021 in their DStv Premiership match 19 against Marumo Gallants FC on Thursday, 23 December, kick off is at 17h30. This game will be televised live on SuperSport Channel 202.