Mamelodi Sundowns secured 40 points in the DStv Premiership after successfully brushing aside Chippa United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday evening. One first-half goal from Teboho Mokoena and another second-half header from Peter Shalulile saw The Brazilians go past stubborn Gqeberha side by a final score of 2-1 in the domestic league competition. Downs Head Coach Rulani Mokwena summarized the outcome of the encounter in a press briefing after the victory, he said:
“[It was] A difficult win against a team that lost [their game] midweek and they had extra motivation also to beat us. Congratulations [to the team] it was an important win.”
“The game belongs to the players, none of us as coaches have scored a single goal as [these] professional footballers or created [a goal] and it’s not important whether we can match each other or not because we will never see that contest.”
Masandwana broke the deadlock after fifteen minutes of the first half with a smashing finish from Mokoena before Shalulile scored the second one to help the Champions side maintain their first position in the DStv Premiership log standing. Coach Rulani and his troops that were on the bench stood up to respond to a tackle on one of their players in the second half, causing a scuffle and intensity on the field of play as the referee issued a yellow card to Siphesihle Mkhize of Chippa United. The Brazilians Coach expressed how their reaction to the foul represented brotherhood and love for one another:
“It’s a culture that’s been at the football club even before I arrived. It is a culture that I found here as an assistant coach and it is a culture that has continued, huge credits to the leadership of the football club – the Motsepe family. Ours is just to continue with that and that’s what we try to do.”
He also included what their principals are when going into match days, he said: “We go game by game. We know that we are not at the level that we want to be at yet [and] a lot of people are saying that we are not at the level that everyone thinks we should be. We have no excuses or any reasons to be in a sense of comfort. We know, we will improve and continue to get better and better.”
Bafana Ba Style welcomed back their star striker Shalulile in the clash against the Chili Boys after the goal machine underwent surgery over two months ago after suffering a muscular injury. The Namibian international finished the 2021-22 season with 23 goals to his name, winning the golden boot and player of the season awards. Shalulile proved to be of quality as he marked his return with a sensational header in front of the Yellow Nation in Pretoria.
“He’s a very important player for us, loved by the group, loved by the fans and you saw how everyone celebrated when he scored. He’s still the reigning footballer of the season, top goalscorer.” Said Coach Rulani in response to Shalulile’s performance.
He added, “This is what I’m saying, that if you didn’t do the work that is being done by the entire football club it’s a little bit unfair because you have had the footballer of the season out and you are still 13 points ahead of the team positioned number 3. You’ve had Rivaldo [Coetzee] out, Bongani Zungu out, Abdel Boutouil whom we signed to strengthen the team, Lebohang Maboe, Shalulile and [Abubeker] Nasir whom we’ve signed to improve the team, he’s been out for the majority of the season.”
“When you consider that we have not had the luxury to be able to utilize in terms of the players that everybody knows and the quality that they bring to this Mamelodi Sundowns side. This is why I say it’s incredible what this group of players have done because they continue to play week in week out, [Erwin] Saavedra has been out, Thapelo Morena and Terrence Mashego too.”
Mamelodi Sundowns will be out of action for nearly a week as they head into preparations for the Tshwane derby on Monday, 16 January at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.