Mamelodi Sundowns fell at the quarter-finals stage of the CAF Champions League after a 1-1 draw with Petroléos de Luanda at the FNB Stadium.
The Tshwane giants missed out on the opportunity to qualify for a semi-final spot in the African championships with a 2-3 aggregate score when they faced Petro in the second leg of the quarters. Masandawana were excellent in the opening period and established a commanding first half, however missed chances to capitalize on the scoring opportunities they created. Bafana Ba Style’s Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi expressed his disappointment of the encounter in the press conference meeting held after the match:
“First half we created (I think) nine chances, and we had two big chances but unfortunately when we did not take those chances maybe they came back to bite us. But I do believe we had a very good first half, unfortunate not to score enough in that moment.”
“In the second half we had a lot of things that were very unfortunate, the momentum of the game was killed by a whole lot of things: 1; The VAR decisions, I just feel that they took too long, I wouldn’t say they were right or wrong, but I just feel in a game it has an effect when you have too many stoppages and maybe four or five minutes in the issue of Denis and the handball, I think that’s a decision that can be taken very quickly. The second one was with the penalty, I think again it is something that took too long, [but] as to whether those decisions were right or wrong, to be honest at this stage I would not want to go there because to a certain extent I do believe most of the decisions were very good, but unfortunately because the momentum was broken down a lot. The second half became very ugly let’s be honest, it was an ugly game of football.”
The Brazilians took the lead almost immediately after the restart thanks to Brian Onyango’s strike in the second half period, and an equalizer by Tiago Azulão for Luanda as they held on during a frantic period.
“We ended up forcing a lot of balls and the game became very uncontrollable, but nonetheless I am very proud of the boys. [We are] unfortunate that we did not qualify to the semi-finals, but I think the boys gave a good account of themselves, and it’s probably us as the leadership that will have to take the bullet and say maybe we need to plan and do better in the next coming matches and make sure that we improve in this space because seemingly we are not achieving our ultimate goals.” Said Coach Manqoba.
“We were playing a very good team, one must not take that away from them, but the number of chances that we created do suggest that we dominated the game. We could have easily scored two or three goals in the first fifteen minutes, we created very good chances, but unfortunately when you don’t take those early chances in the match and as the game progresses you start getting anxious. I would give them credit because they’ve gone through, but I wouldn’t really think that their organization made it very difficult for us to penetrate and create clear cut opportunities which I believe we created.”
Throughout the encounter Masandawana pressed forward and the rest of the second half saw continued pressure with very little fightback from Petro, half chances were created with the finishing being the let down of the night. The Brazilians coach applauded his side for their fighting spirit.
“I think we can take the blame on ourselves because we had chances and opportunities to capitalize on some of the challenges they had, based on the profile that we saw of them, but I don’t want to run away from the fact that we were playing against a very good team and they are not just push overs. I still believe that our team was the better team on the day, but unfortunately that does not count when you did not put balls into the net. In the Champions League, unlike in the PSL, you make one or two stupid mistakes you get punished, the goals we conceded that side [away] were all very bad goals.”
Sundowns will now turn their focus back to domestic league competition, on Wednesday they will host Cape Town City in the DStv Premiership at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.