Masandawana could not find the back of the net when they came up against the Chilli Boys in their first away game of the new season at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Bafana Ba Style Coach Manqoba Mngqithi says that his opponents did not surprise them with their defensive schemes that made it impossible to play.
“For me it’s two points dropped, we did not apply ourselves the way we expected in this match and we knew that Gavin [Hunt] would be very stubborn. We knew the shape they were going to play with, that he [would] have three center backs and wing backs and that he would have five across to try and frustrate us. We did expect that he would kill the space behind the defense.” said Coach Manqoba.
He added: “Our performance was very cautious in the first half, lacking the dribbles and not forcing the opponents to face their goals, from our wing backs one would have expected more one against one situations, maybe combinations to try to get behind them and put crosses into the box, [but] we did not get that. For me that was very disappointing because in a game like this you expect your team to put their best foot forward.”
The Chilli Boys defense was as solid as a rock and looked determined to deny the Champions any chance of playing their regular counter attack game. Coach Manqoba says that his team stood a chance of performing better to create goal scoring opportunities.
“I wouldn’t say that I was impressed with the opponent’s organization, I just think we took the caution side of the game and not wanting to lose possession more than forcing the game. There are times in football if you try to force yourself in and you lose possession, opponents that want to counter attack they start to open up for you, then you can counter attack immediately and find the openings that you want. When they killed the space behind the defense it also minimized the influence of Peter Shalulile, but had Peter scored the first chance that he got in the game, this game would’ve turned out differently. It was a very easy chance for him to tap it in, from there the opponents would be forced to come out and it would present a different game to us.”
Masandawana were without their regular players, Mosa Lebusa, Themba Zwane, Gift Motupa and Lebohang Maboe who are out due to injuries. New signings were integrated and given an opportunity into the squad.
“Grant Kekana played really well in that position, in fact our center backs never gave us any headaches, it’s just that we were not incisive enough offensively and we never forced combination playing or one against ones” said coach Manqoba.
“A game like this, one cross with Peter in the box, Haashim [Domingo] and Mothobi [Mvala] coming late into the box there is something that you can get, but when you’re not having a lot of crosses and never having sufficient actions in and around the opposition box it does not help you. When you play in front of them, no matter how many touches on the ball you can have with your number 6, center backs and your goalkeeper, it does not help. What is more important is to try and force the game into the game and see what you get out of it.”
Coach Manqoba concluded and said he is content with the team’s performance so far in the league “The condition of the players it’s ok, it can still improve. We know our marathon, we know that we have to build progressively up until we arrive to the point that we know we want to arrive at but as coaches we are happy with the progress that the team is making. Today it’s not a question of the physical condition, Chippa in the second half were willing to give us spaces a little bit and we could’ve punished [them] and we tried.”
Mamelodi Sundowns next encounter is on Saturday, 28 August against Golden Arrows in the MTN8 Cup Competition.