Mamelodi Sundowns took another big step forward in the DStv Premiership as they secured a stunning win over Orlando Pirates on Saturday afternoon in Soweto.A ruthless brace from Peter Shalulile was enough to secure the points on the day and after slaying two Soweto giants in the past two weeks, Downs remain top of the pile in the log standings.
After the game Coach Manqoba Mngqithi shared his thoughts on the strategy that brought The Brazilians the victory on the day.
“Our plan was to try and go to our full backs as quickly as possible, which I think worked. I must commend them [Orlando Pirates], they gave a very good account of themselves in the first half and probably losing [Terrence] Dzvukamanja also gave us a little bit more because you know he’s not only dangerous behind the defence, he had very good passes in the half spaces to find [Deon] Hotto in the wide channels, but our boys stood their ground. We knew what we wanted and we believed that we had a team that could win this match.” Said coach Manqoba.
He continued to detail the team’s playing style that earned them victory in the intense encounter: “In the first half we made a lot of mistakes in not finding the diagonal pass behind their centre backs. We had those moments a lot whereby in the first half, we could’ve had Themba Zwane behind [Thulani Hlatswayo] ‘Tyson’, with [Bandile] Shandu recovering a little bit late. We were looking for those possibilities, it was interesting in the second half when we managed to get a goal from that [which is] the second goal that Peter [Shalulile] scored and credit should also be given to [Thabiso] Kutumela for being a little direct against [Goodman] Mosele.”
The Brazilians are in good form with an outstanding record in the domestic league with 13 points collected from five of their matches played. According to coach Manqoba, their winning mentality is applied in all competitions that they find themselves participating in.
“In every season at Sundowns when we play a friendly or a competitive match, we want to win. When it happens that we do not win all the trophies it’s not because we are selective in choosing one against the other, but in football things happen. Last season at one stage we were close to the Champions League semi-final and close to the Nedbank Cup semi-final, but unfortunately it was not to be.”
“[Our responsibility] is to make sure that we play each game as it comes and give it our best shot. I believe that the team is pushing to win each and every match and if we can win every match, chances of winning all the trophies that are there.”
Bafana Bafana international, Thabiso Kutumela was one of the key players in Masandawana’s brilliance over The Sea Robbers. The newly-signed striker came close to goal in the opening minutes of the first half and continued with intent to help Downs dominate in attack, eventually providing an assist to Shalulile’s goal which broke the deadlock.
“Based on the previous performances of the guys that we played, Kutumela played the last time as a substitute and he scored a very beautiful goal and when he came in against [TS Galaxy]. Against Arrows in the MTN8 he also gave a very good account of himself which kept him in the team.” Said coach Manqoba on his selection of the 28-year old in the starting lineup.
He added: “Kermit [Erasmus] and Peter have been doing very well, we had to sacrifice Gaston [Sirino], not because he wasn’t doing well but we felt we needed a little bit more directness behind either [Paseka] Mako or [Deon] Hotto. We wanted somebody that can really give us directness and in essence that directness actually gave us our first goal today. One must also give credit to Denis [Onyango], maybe that’s why he’s Africa’s number one because he also kept us in the game with stelling saves, those saves now make it look like we had the game in the hand but the truth of the matter is if he did not make those saves the game could’ve turned out differently.”
Masandawana however are not taking any of their early wins for granted as they will be faced with many challenges as the season unfolds and will be looking to all their players to carry out the winning momentum and targets with diligence.
“We know the rainy days are still coming [like] the second round when the Champions League is there and games are packed back-to-back. It’s going to be a little bit difficult [therefore] it’s important for us to already put our strategies across to make sure that we achieve the desired targets within the first few cycles that we have.” explained coach Manqoba.
“We are likely to play between 19 and 20 games before the Christmas break, that should give us a little bit of a chance to go to the Champions League knowing that we have collected enough points, but it’s never really going to be easy and that’s why we take each game as it comes.”
Mamelodi Sundowns will be in action on Tuesday, 28 September against Lamontville Golden Arrows in the MTN8 Cup semi final second leg at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.