Pretoria – Golden Arrows boss Manqoba Mngqithi believes the two-month hiatus in the Premiership, due to the Africa Cup of Nations, served his team well and gave them time to work together, galvanising his squad as a unit.
A goal in either half from Ntlantla Zothwane and Bongi Ntuli secured Arrows a hard fought 2-0 victory over the University of Pretoria at Tuks Stadium on Wednesday evening.
“To be honest, I really appreciated the break because even before the break I was fighting to make sure we get into it so that we can have time and maybe get my philosophy and ideology across,” Mngqithi said after the game.
“For me, it was more or less a pre-season period, where we never concentrated a lot on just basic endurance, we were already working with tactics from our first week.
“The friendlies that we played also benefitted us. We played quite a number of tough friendlies against Orlando Pirates, Wits, Bloemfontein Celtic and African Warriors.
“All of those teams gave us a really good run for our money.”
While he admitted the match was not the best he had seen, he was pleased to walk away with three points in tough circumstances after a long time away from competitive soccer.
“We are trying but we aren't there yet,” Mngqithi said.
“At times we easily panicked – mainly that is caused by the formation that we find ourselves in – so the anxiety levels are very high.
“At times we played long balls unnecessarily because we were scared of losing. Maybe once we get into the rhythm of winning matches we will start playing our normal football.
“The performance was not one of the best, but at least to defend the way we defended, I was happy.”
AmaTuks coach Steve Barker said the fixture had not gone according to plan, and his squad would need to recover from the disappointment as soon as possible ahead of their league fixture against Moroka Swallows next week.
“It's not what we planned for,” Barker said.
“It's disappointing, a true reflection of the game, probably 2-0 was a bit flattering for them, but at the same time, I don't think we did enough to win the game.
“To go down 1-0 two minutes before half-time is a really poor time to concede. There was a bit of a mix-up between the goalkeeper and defenders, so that wasn't acceptable.
“We got ourselves back into the game, we had two good chances but soon we were 2-0 down and then the game was basically gone.
“We just lacked a little bit of mental alertness and mental sharpness out on the field of play.
“Whether it's been the break or what, but we need to be positive, we need to get this game out of our system, come back tomorrow on the training ground and start working again to bounce back.” – Sapa