Mamelodi Sundowns Co-Coaches Manqoba Mnqgithi and Rulani Mokwena were awarded with the honour after guiding the league leaders to 3 wins and 2 draws in their 5 games that settled their position top of the log.
Masandawana started November with a 1-0 victory at home to Maritzburg United, followed by a thrashing 4-0 win against Marumo Gallants in Polokwane. Bafana Ba Style encountered a difficult Cape Town City away from home with the game ending in a goalless draw, then a hard-fought 2-2 draw in the first Tshwane Derby of the season against SuperSport United at the Loftus Versfeld stadium, before ending the month with a 2-0 win at home against Sekhukhune United. Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi accepted the award on behalf of the coaching staff and attributed the award to his players and the technical team.
“One must just appreciate the fact that once again the adjudicators felt that we deserve to win the award – that is myself, Coach Rulani Mokwena, Coach Steve Komphela, Coach Wendell Robinson and the entire technical team together with the players because they are the ones that play the games, they are the ones who understand exactly what is expected at a big team like Sundowns. When we win these trophies we are just recipients, the truth of the matter is that our players, our technical team, management, support staff, the board, our Chairman and the President of the club are the ones that make us look good because they provide all the resources. The players give their best, the technical team supports all that we are trying to do and help us to achieve all that we aim to achieve. I just want to say that it’s a collective effort and we are very thankful that we have a group of people like this who are supporting us to make sure that at the end of the day we are winning these awards.”
Downs have been unstoppable in their pursuit to successfully defend their league title, the Tshwane giants were surprisingly dropping points in their encounters that followed in November and conceded their first goal of the season too. Coach Manqoba said though their clean sheets record came to an end, there is nothing wrong with conceding as it plays into their playing philosophy.
“At a certain point in the league you must expect that you can concede a goal, it was beginning to pile a lot of pressure on us having not conceded a goal because as Sundowns Football Club we are an attacking team and as an attacking team we must always say that we will score more than the opponent and that is primary. As much as we have to work on our rest defense, our counter pressing and all those things to minimize the chance of conceding goals, we must understand that more than worrying about conceding, we have a bigger responsibility of scoring more goals. We will always complain when we play matches and we don’t score, or we score only one goal because we always believe that we deserve to score two or more goals per match.”
He added: “Truth be told, we’ve done the best we could with what we have, drawing two matches in in one cycle is what hurts us the most because at Sundowns in one cycle at least you can take drawing one match, but you will not take drawing and losing, and drawing two in a single cycle becomes a little bit more difficult for us but the group is fully aware, we are working really hard to improve because in all the draws that we got we believe that we could’ve easily converted those draws into wins.”
The Brazilians coaches clinched their hands on the award for the second time this season with an impressive run in the DStv Premiership, a period that is as similar as the 2020/21 season when the team went 22 games unbeaten. According to Mngqithi, the competition was harder last year when they were only awarded the same award at the end of the season.
“If you look at the number of points that we got last year, it is probably the same if not lower considering the slump that we just had now. But the truth of the matter is that we had better performances last year, we started the season like a house on fire, we beat the best teams in the league in the early stages in our first five matches, we were leading from the beginning to the end and we did not get it at that time, now we are getting it but maybe sanity prevails because there is nothing that has changed. In fact we believe we have performed with stiffer competition last season in terms of the gap between the first and the second throughout the season, but we must appreciate these accolades when they come and take them with humility and respect because truth is there are too many good teams, too many good coaches and good players in the league and for us to get these accolades we must appreciate and have gratitude.”