Mamelodi Sundowns moved 17 points clear at the top of the DStv Premiership with a 1-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. Downs were already at the top of the log but knew that a positive result at FNB Stadium could be hugely valuable for them before turning their focus into continental competition that begins in February.
Masandawana’s starlet Neo Maema pushed the defending Champions into the lead after twenty minutes of the first half. The Brazilians won the ball in their own half defending Chiefs’ attempt at goal, Khuliso Mudau worked his way up to the attacking third to combine with Peter Shalulile who shared the ball with Maema as he put the ball away with his right foot. Downs Head Coach Rulani Mokwena complimented his team’s effort after the clash, he said:
“Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. Congratulations to the players [it was] not easy but from a tactical perspective maybe not one of the games that I enjoyed so much. I have to speak to the players first about the performance, but generally [the game] was just too open, not enough control and the reasons for that I have to speak to the players first.”
The defending Champions began the night in relative control in the opening minutes of action before finding the back of the net. An opportunity for an early lead was denied by the Chiefs’ defense as early as five minutes into the game. Coach Rulani briefly demonstrated the structures that contribute to the success of the club, he started off by showing appreciation to the efforts being put together into building the football club.
“I give huge kudos to the football club, a huge round of applause to everyone involved at the club for what we see, it could’ve never been an individual contribution or makeup. Congratulations to the collective, congratulations to the entire group of players and the Motsepe Family, the board and everybody involved in putting together the Sundowns that we see today.”
“That includes the recruitment department and everybody that works in the scouting department and tries to invest. That includes the generosity from the Motsepe family that goes into that space and how they invest in football. And then for sure the individual qualities that come to the front and we try to create schemes, structures or some form of mechanical things to work on that suit the needs and qualities of the players and the team.”
Bafana Ba Style put up a fight to defeat The Glamour Boys in their own backyard and it took some excellent goalkeeping from Ronwen Williams to keep out Keagan Dolly and Bimenyimana Caleb.
“It’s very risky to play with the goalkeeper and there are one or two situations where it’s easy to say, ‘but what are they doing?’ So it works out for us, it’s important because a big team must have 11 players in possession on the pitch and we try to do that with Ronwen as the starting point of our build up scheme for sure.”
Coach Rulani continued to speak on the team’s pursuit to refine their play even after successfully completing a double over AmaKhosi for the first time in the Premier Soccer League history, he said: “We always have to improve, we have to get better and we say it [all the time] after winning. I think today’s performance was slightly better than the last two, although still a little bit too open but I speak from a coaching perspective when I say we have to improve.”
“Even if we win [games] in a row or even if we lose, we still have to get better, there’s no ceiling and we have to think about that and know that. We will work hard to always improve and get better and keep trying to make our supporters happy by playing the type of football that will make everyone happy.”
Mamelodi Sundowns head into preparations for their next league encounter on Tuesday against The Rockets in Mpumalanga.