Mamelodi Sundowns secured a point on the road on Monday, following a 1-1 draw with Baroka FC at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium. Speaking after the compressed encounter in Polokwane, Downs Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqithi drew encouragement from the nature of the performance on an evening where he believes the team deserved more.
“Very disappointing. A very tight game I must say, a game that could’ve been decided in set-pieces. Lyle [Lakay] did very well to score the first, unfortunate with the second one. But credit must also be given to Baroka, I think they worked very hard, they were very hungry, they fought for every ball, but nonetheless I think the team did enough to win the match, it was just unfortunate that at the end we ended up getting a draw.”
Coach Manqoba hailed his charges despite Monday night’s late equalizer, he said: “The boys gave a very good account of themselves, in a match that was played in a field that was not very good on the day and unfortunately also the lighting is not one of the best, but the game nonetheless had to continue, we did what we had to do.”
Bafana Ba Style opened their scoring early in the second half of the game through Lakay’s long range free-kick, numerous clear cut chances were presented for Downs to extend their lead but the pressure of Bakgakga remained consistent until the final whistle. Richard Mbuli’s strike at goal during added time sent shockwaves as the game came to an end shortly after the equalizer.
“I would prefer not to talk about the referees, because sometimes we make a lot of assumptions when we have not looked at the footage [to see] exactly what really transpired. But from what I’ve seen, I do believe there were some calls that we’re not the best, but I would prefer not to dwell much on the referee’s performance.” Expressed Coach Manqoba.
Masandawana hit the road to continue with their CAF Champions League quest, this time the Tshwane giants take a trip to Egypt to prepare for their second game of their campaign in group A. Bafana Ba Style will have a mountain to climb in the Middle East, on Saturday 19 February they will face Sudanese giants Al Merrikh SC at the Al-Salam Stadium Cairo, followed by title-holders Al Ahly SC a week later.
“We will take a substantial number of players considering that we are playing two matches, normally we take 25 players for one match, but this time around we will take a little bit more because we know there are Covid issues, the fact that we are playing two matches. Some players are not very ready to play the first, maybe they’ll be ready to play the second one, it’s one of those where we have to take as much as we can. It’s better to stay than to travel in and out, if maybe Egypt’s Air was operating on the days where we would’ve loved to travel, maybe we would consider going and coming back because we would be having direct flights there, but now now we don’t have direct flights because Egypt Air flies on very few days.” Coach Manqoba explained.
He concluded and said: “I think a stay in Egypt is the best option, we looked at it with the coaches and everybody else involved in the club, and we all feel we might end up having a lot of travel fatigue if we were to travel in and out when we’re still expected to go back the following week. We will be finding ourselves a very good camping place, so that we can be able to have a proper training programme on that side in preparation for the second match.”
Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with Al Merrikh SC on Saturday, 19 February in Cairo.