The Players Were Very Good On The Pitch, They Did The Best They Could – Coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns were able to taste victory with a 3-2 win over Royal AM on Wednesday, creating an eleven point gap at the top of the log in the DStv Premiership.

After dropping points in their previous encounter and having now lost six points in total from their three draws in November, Downs’ co-coach Rulani Mokwena highlighted some of the challenges faced by Bafana Ba Style on the day.

“We struggled a little bit in the first half, of course we analyzed the opposition and from our analysis we knew that we had a lot of work to do in controlling the half spaces because of their very narrow attack. We struggled a little bit to settle into the game and because we didn’t settle so well into the structure [and] the formation because of the tactical changes that we made, because we knew that we had to control the half spaces and the decision we made was to control the half spaces with the center halves.”

“In the second half we made the decision to control the half spaces with our midfielders and we looked a little bit more comfortable on the pitch. It was not a performance that we will spend a lot of time on, it was a performance that had us struggling with our structures, we didn’t play well and we lacked a lot of compactness.”

Coach Rulani pointed to the details of the game that Masandawana could not grasp on the day, such as the amount of play that occurred in the middle of the park and the movements that the opposition were able to make from the centre into the final third approaching the goal lines points of effort that make the difference at top level games. Coach Rulani said:

“The players were very good on the pitch, they did the best they could, they worked very hard in and out of possession, you can’t ask more from the players. What I’m saying is that this on us because clearly we were not well prepared in our structures, we changed the system today, we went to a back three and we tried to use our lateral center halves to control the half space of [Ndumiso] Mabena and [Tebogo] Potsane [but] in this game it was [Menzi] Masuku more than Mabena, because [Victor] Letsoalo wasn’t in. In the last couple of games Mabena has been playing and operating in the half space, and we knew that we have a lot of problems because that’s where they initiate their runs from to
go behind the defensive lines in relation to goals and [they make] movements from deep, their structure is very very awkward.”

The Brazilians took an early lead in the encounter with Thabiso Kutumela wasting no time to capitalize from the defensive errors made by Royal AM and for much of the time that followed, Bafana Ba Style looked like the better team of the day. “Thwihli Thwahla” hardly ever threatened the lead of the hosts until the final stages of the game after The Brazilians had added two more goals from Peter Shalulile’s wonderful strikes, with 10 minutes left of playing time and Downs in the lead, Royal AM put two goals past Kennedy Mweene.

“When we could high press we could high press very well but as soon as it escaped they found possibilities to escape to the side. In the new structure we couldn’t lock the ball in because we did not have the extra midfielder so we had to steal the extra midfielder from our front line – either Kutumela or [Neo] Maema, they had to be the ones to come a little bit closer to [Lantshane] Phalane so that he could not switch and escape the press, so we struggled a little bit with regards to that. When we stabilized a little bit in the second half with Mothobi Mvala coming in then we had an extra man in the midfield, we got rid of the extra man in the last line and we had our plus one in the midfield and we looked a lot more comfortable. The two goals then came and it was 3-0 and while we were cruising we got caught on the counter attack.”

The Tshwane giants made four changes to their starting lineup from the weekend with Maema, Thapelo Morena, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Rushine De Reuck given the opportunity to contribute to the team’s excellent form. Players like Gaston Sirino, Sphelele Mkhulise and Lesedi Kapinga are some of the names that were amongst those on the bench and would soon be given their time to play when substitutions were made. Coach Rulani praised his players for their fine efficiency and dedication despite the lack of game time that some are faced with.

“If you’re asking why is Gaston not playing, it’s very difficult because then you will also have to ask yourself why is Neo playing and why is Kutumela playing? But then when you ask that question the results are on the pitch. Sometimes there are players that aren’t playing only because we can only play 11, the one thing I can say is huge compliments for their professionalism – Gaston, Vila, Aubrey Modiba, Lesedi Kapinga and George Maluleka.”

“These players train and it’s not very easy to understand that, when you come to training in a space where you know that possibly ‘I am not going to be playing or be part of the squad but I still go with the business of training and train as if I am going to be playing, being professional and giving the team the best that I can’, that is the mentality that these players possess. When they get their opportunities the responsibility is on them to be able to speak by performance and not to speak by showing long faces and
showing disgruntlement. The actions and communications come from the performances on the pitch and that was what Gaston did today, he came on and showed hunger. Only 11 can play, we are fortunate that we have a very good squad that anybody can play, it’s good and healthy competition.” concluded Rulani on the selection of players that have been given the window of opportunity.

1 Response
  1. jimmy

    if Sundowns dont put this one on a leash he is going to say something the club will live to regret in the future .the media vultures will do this .
    😂🤣🤣🤣🤣Why Mokwena Was Annoyed With Downs (soccer laduma)

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