Mamelodi Sundowns preserved their status in their opening CAF Champions League round by beating La Passe FC 7-0 last weekend in Pretoria. Goals from Grant Kekana, Sphelele Mkhulise, Sipho mbule and a brace from Gaston Sirino, as well as an own goal erupted Loftus versfeld Stadium as fans showed up to support the Tshwane giants as they begin their continental journey, Downs Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi revealed their playing tactics leading up to the triumph, he said:
“We had done our assignment and we had seen that as much as they may look very bad in terms of the score line, they still have some very good players [like] the twins that play at the top, the #19 and #2 [as well as] their right wing back #4 (if I’m not mistaken), those players have been to trials in the Bundesliga and that tells you something. They are not as terrible people would think, we knew the structure was going to be three at the back with two wing backs and two sitting midfielders. We anticipated a 10 and a 14, but they did not start with a 14 they started with a 10 and 18. Up top we expected a 7, 19 and a 9 and they were not far off from that.
“In terms of the score line on the match itself, I think we could’ve done better than we did, but we also gave them a few scary moments in transition where we could’ve easily been punished. One was a foul in front of goal by one of their wingers, I think it was a number 7 if I’m not mistaken and the [other was a] foul that Mosa Lebusa did on their number 19 which could’ve easily resulted in a booking. The truth is that we did our preparations like we normally do, we do good due diligence for every match because we don’t want surprises, we always want to know what is most likely going to happen.”
Coach Manqoba also emphasized on the team’s winning mentality for the second leg against La Passe despite the huge score line, he said: “The biggest assignment that we have as Sundowns is to always try to better our benchmarks, and whoever is given an opportunity for this match also has the responsibility to live upto our expectations as the technical team. Everything that happens in the match we get to see, how much box entries, how many dribbles, what distance did you cover we are looking at those things because each and every individual must show that they deserve an opportunity to get into the next match, but more so because we’ve got very big assignments after these two matches.”
Masandawana treated their supporters to a day filled with fun activities and musical performances by a local artist during half time. Downs announced on their social media platforms the exemption of free entry into the stadium for kids aged 12 and under, as well as a designated kiddies corner with a jumping castle and fun activities on the day. The Brazilians’ coach commented on the club’s initiatives in bringing extraordinary and fresh scenes to the stadium for their supporters.
“Sometimes in South Africa we don’t learn from our own history, because our history suggests that our people are prone to come to the stadium if there is also some sort of artists or music, they like that and that is why if you check the numbers that artists usually collect in their small concerts or festivals, [it’s] usually more than what we collect as teams into the stadiums. During the times of Abdul Bhamjee that’s what we were doing and it was working, our stadiums were full. I remember watching the AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs game, I think it was the mainstay cup [and] the stadium was full because that spice was always added into our matches.”
He added: “I think Sundowns is also trying to bring that back – to always have an artist at almost every match that we play at home so that those who may not be very keen in football they must have something else to appreciate for coming into the stadium. I think that is a good idea to try and get as many people as possible into our football matches, because our football is suffering. I don’t know for whatever reason, not a lot of people are keen to go to the stadium. There are too many supporters but when you expect to see people in the seats at the stadium they are not always there. I think that is the dimension that Sundowns has adopted and I know for a fact that even in this coming match we will get the same treatment of having an artist and DJ’s before, during and after the match, and I think that is a very good initiative from the club.”
Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with La Passe FC in the second leg of the CAF Champions League second preliminary round on Friday, 14 October at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Kick off is at 17H30, live on SuperSport.