We Take the Point and We Move On – Coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns dropped points in the DStv Premiership after being held to a 2-2 draw by SuperSport United on Wednesday evening in Tshwane. The visitors had the better chances early on in the contest, hitting the woodwork before Masandawana could find their groove in the dramatic Tshwane derby. Bafana Ba Style’s co-coach Rulani Mokwena shared his perspective of the game in a media briefing after the encounter.

“First it’s just to be gracious and congratulate SuperSport United and Coach Kaitano Tembo for staying in the game and fighting it through as well as getting a point. We can’t fault the players for trying, the effort was there on the pitch, they ran hard and they gave a good account for themselves, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We take the point and we move on.”

Coach Rulani continued and expressed his dissatisfaction with the team’s performance on the evening and said: “For me I just feel like we played far too quick from the start, the range of our passes was far too huge, normally we are 5, 10 or even 12 metre passing team but today we had far too many longer passes. Those passes stretch the lines of the team, when you have the lines of the team stretched it means you compromise your defensive structure and it becomes a little bit too difficult to have a feeling of control or dominance on the pitch. [I don’t have] a good feeling about the match, we will analyze, try to correct and try to give a better account of ourselves, we have to get up and dust ourselves off.”

The Brazilians’ excellent record of 10 successive clean sheets came to an end in the second half of the clash with two goals going past Ugandan international goalie Denis Onyango. Masandawana’s number one goalkeeper made seven league appearances and handed the defending champions a new record of clean sheets in the DStv premiership before coming into the meeting with Matsatsantsa, it is for this reason that Coach Rulani continues to be proud of Onyango despite the two goals that Downs conceded on the night.

“Football is a game of mistakes and unfortunately when you are a goalkeeper, there is the understanding that your mistakes might be more costly than many of the other players that are on the pitch, but the reality is that Denis is a top goalkeeper and as they say ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer’. He has got our support, we will show the corrections and analyze the game like we always do even when we win. We try to get the lessons and try to improve and even in a difficult moment just like today, we will still do our corrections and analyze with everybody and not just for Denis.”

“I know that the state of football says that when you make mistakes you become the scapegoat, so we have to refrain from that because how many other times has he helped us? When we’ve been talking about all these clean sheets and the records that we were setting, a lot of it had a lot to do with Denis, let’s not be quick to forget, [rather] let’s appreciate, let’s love our players and appreciate our players in good and bad moments.”

Even though Masandawana have dropped four points in their last two encounters they remain seated on the top spot with a six point gap between them and Stellenbosch who are positioned second in the league. Coach Rulani advised on collecting points and focusing on playing games as they come and not getting off track as the season is far from over. 

“We have not targeted a certain number of points, we have our own processes where we have divided the calendar into certain blocks. We start now with the third block, which is a new group of five games which we have to participate in and it’s a difficult group of five games and we have a certain target for that but for us it’s just game by game. There’s so much work that still needs to be done, the season is so long. It’s very easy to lose sight and start counting your chickens before the eggs hatch, so we just work step by step and game by game.” 

Masandawana’s formation in the match saw Andile being deployed as an anchor in Downs defensive structures and playing deeper than usual as United attempted to penetrate the well organized defense. Coach Rulani thoroughly explained Jali’s role and how it matched United’s attacking plans. “SuperSport play with a 4-4-2, when you have two strikers sitting on top of your two center backs then you need to create some form of superiority. AJ did that very well for us through the half spaces and sometimes through the central corridors, but that’s not 100% how we want to play every single match. We’ve got what I always call ‘tactical culture’ and that culture means that the game principles and schemes are always the same and just adopted in relation to the opposition’s high press.” said Coach Rulani.

Bafana Ba Style’s star studded squad continues to shine on and leave a mark with each game played. Once again it was the young players in The Brazilias’ camp that showed resolution and dedication, Haashim Domingo and Neo Maema have become the names that are almost impossible not to mention during and after match days. Domingo and Maema have been scooping the man of the match accolade in the DStv Premiership for their outstanding performances and Coach Rulani shed light on the two players’ performances and roles in the team.

“[With Haashim] It depends on the responsibility, generally with his upbringing he has always been a player that plays a little bit closer towards the goal, and therefore with that in mind you would think that assists in goals are very important contributions for him in a match, but the role that he plays is a little bit more different to where he’s got to be. [He plays] a little bit deeper to construct the attack and he’s got different responsibilities, [therefore] it becomes difficult for him to be in and around the box. We are very happy with his contribution, his intensity, his usage of the ball, and his ability to develop the play from deeper positions. He will still grow, he’s extremely talented and the one good thing [about him] is his humility and his coachability.”

[“With Maema] He comes in with the dynamism and the ability to use the left foot very well. He’s got a lot of confidence to strike the ball from range, he’s also learning a lot of new things, it was good to see the ball that he played for the assist, with that dink over the top which is something that we’ve been working hard on. He’s young, energetic, dynamic and he works very hard on the pitch and he’s a very exciting player that’s giving his heart and soul to Mamelodi Sundowns and I’m sure that the supporters are very happy with his performances. The challenge now is for him to find consistency and to be able to continue contributing towards the goals whether it’s through assists or through goals scored. So far so good, the mentorship that he receives from people like Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi is very important, they assist and guide him.”

7 Responses
  1. muzi kunene

    We drew because of the so called Africa’s number one and I don’t think We are ready for the North Africans in Champs league but its only my opinion

  2. Jero

    Technical team and Onyango cost us 3 point. Why did they replace Safranko and Zwane. They should have replaced Neo with George due to the fact that he was tired to assist J15

  3. Mzimela

    Substituted should be determine by situation of game but to Sundowns look like substituted done before game take place why i says.that Sunday score nil nil instead of put attacking player defensive middle field brought in simiral situation against S sport Zwane and Safrako substituted by do so gave oposition.free to attack u call that game analze no although Onyango blunder just because S.sport were attacking if sub player u must put a better than Kutumela not better than Zwane 1st he did just foul.that cause goal Domingo is better than Mkhulise no why play ahead of him

    1. Ronnie Bothma

      The team was not at its best but I still think we played well enough. No God given right to win or not to concede. Goalkeeper mistakes are glaring. All players make mistakes the technical will tell you that… We as fans don’t see it. Cause it’s not glaring to us. As for Safranko, I respect him as a person. We don’t have coaching licenses but… Please don’t fool us. Im still waiting to be proven wrong. Sadly i don’t think it will happen. But im rather hoping as his fortunes are my fortunes

  4. Sbedula

    Hey masandawana , I’m just disappointed the way the game ended up like that. from two nill up and end up with a point is disappointing. Onyango cost us the game, I wonder what was going through his mind Caz the guy is our number one goal keeper and I just hope he will recover soon because we can’t afford to drop points like this

  5. Bango

    Football is always like that, you real can find it so hard to pin point and single out individuals from a collective errors. If we are to blame , lets blame the whole team inclusive of the technical team and also after the constructive criticism lets pick them up because the same set of people are the once responsible for spoiling us and make us believe they are untouchable. We came all agree that it felt like a defeat, but the truth of the matter we did not lose the match.One of those difficult battles, it was a derby and it is always interesting , Tshwane Derby always characterized with goals,that’s the beauty of this game. Playing with our emotions.
    It has been a norm that we don’t lose to SS , having said that when we led 2-nil anyone could have confirmed game over as possibly all of us assumed so, anyone was bound to make a mistake on that regard because things had deceived us and mad made us believe it was a good lead especially with Sundowns. We have won matches at 1-nil before, if it goes to 2 its a perfect lead for sundowns. Things happen, the same substitutions would work in some other days, which did not work this time.It was not meant to be, the record had to be broken, that is why we feel the pain. We only drew the match, those two goals felt like arrows, yes ,indeed, a trend had to be broken. We must take it from there, we still have a wonderful set of players and technical team. We must believe again in them. The can set another record again. Sundowns is capable of breaking its own records, start other records till they break it themselves. We are still in good space.All these mistakes can be forgiven, they are all human football errors. The solution, our joy and happiness still lies within them. BKY

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