Mamelodi Sundowns are 17 points clear at the top of the DStv Premiership table after a thoroughly persevering performance against Chippa United on Monday evening.
Masandawana are back on the winning wagon in the Premier Soccer League after losing their only game late last year against AmaZulu FC and concluding their last game of 2021 with a draw against Marumo Gallants. The Brazilians showed their quality and determination to continue with their excellent performances against The Chilli Boys at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in their first league encounter for the new year. Co-Coach Rulani Mokoena however, showed dissatisfaction with the performance on the night, saying that more goals should’ve been scored.
“We knew that the game was going to be a very difficult match, in our analysis we spoke about their physicality and we spoke about their aggression in the duels. If you could see [Thabiso] Kutumela’s leg you will understand why in my pre-match discussions we called for very strong officiating because having watched their last seven games you could see the profile of the team from that perspective. Fortunately we got very good officiating today and two good teams, but we were superior throughout the pitch in most areas but very clear today ever since I became a co-head coach here at Sundowns, maybe today’s performance is the one that disappoints me the most.” expressed The Brazilians’ coach.
Coach Rulani continued and detailed the areas that he felt let the team down:
“[There was] Not enough control in our movements, not enough control with ball usage, [we were] playing too fast, and not engaging the next line to be the one that defends the ball. When you don’t do that you’re then playing a lot of horizontal passes and you’re going sideways and backwards, which is not how we want to play, because if you’re playing in that manner when you arrive in the final third it takes you too long to get there.”
“Even though we got there and created a lot of chances we were just so careless with the ball and really not as ruthless as we should have been, because it could easily have been a game that has 4 or 5 [goals], but when you leave it on the edge then the opposition feels as if they’ve got the possibility to stay in the game. They had some very good opportunities on the counter, which Kennedy [Mweene] did exceptionally well to save.”
The Tshwane giants will be looking to begin their continental football competition in three days when they come face to face with Al-Hilal Omdurman, a Sudanese squad as their first opponents in their group A seeding. Coach Rulani stated that they’ve been monitoring their opponents who have arrived in the country to begin their preparations, “We know that our opposition have been in the country for the last two and half weeks, or more, they’ve played friendlies against Stellenbosch FC, against Cape Town City where they lost the game 3-2 and tomorrow [Tuesday] they’ve got a friendly in Cape Town.”
“Their preparations have gone well, it’s gonna be a difficult game but we start now, today we recover and try to get the players as fresh as possible and that becomes the immediate objective. Secondly we come in and do the analysis and debrief of this match and check where we went wrong, the things that we didn’t do right and it is very clear that there’s quite a few so we’ve got a bit of work to do with regards to that, so that we can try to improve the performance, then we can start focussing on the opposition and we start having match day countdowns.”
Despite the disappointing performance by his troops against the Gqeberha outfit, Bafana Ba Style remain in position of dominance and brilliance against their counterparts as they comfortably occupy the number one spot in the domestic league. Downs Coach may not be content with the opening of his league encounter, but he continued to show confidence in the team’s ability to win battles.
“We’ve got a very good squad, we’ve got a very good group of players that understand where we are and the demands of playing for a club like Mamelodi Sundowns. That in the good moments we are not so high and in the bad moments we are not so low, and that 24hr rule even counts after wins like this because we’ve got to keep our feet firmly on the ground and continue to work to improve the team and the individual players.”
Mamelodi Sundowns begin their CAF Champions League journey on Friday, 11 February against Al-Hilal Omdurman at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. This game will be televised live on SuperSport.