at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
The thought of a porous Mamelodi Sundowns defence keeps many of the team’s supporters awake at night. The Downs defence is a source of concern for all associated with the Chloorkop-based side. In the last five matches, Sundowns have conceded nine goals.
Their coach, Johan Neeskens, blasted his defence for school-boy errors that saw them exit the MTN8 and also drop three points in the process. Eight men have been deployed by Neeskens in defence so far this season. His back-line has been chopped and changed owing to injuries and suspensions.
Even defensive midfielder, Esrom Nyandoro, has featured for Downs in defence when regulars were not available. However by and large, despite the changes, Sundowns defence has been consistent in leaking goals.
Needless to say, something is wrong with the Downs defence. From goalkeeper to every member of the back four, the men trusted with protecting Sundowns have disappointed.
We look at each member of the Downs defence, bar injured players.
He may have been doing well but any goalkeeper that concedes nine goals in five matches can’t be let off the hook. While the men that ought to protect him have been found wanting, Sandilands has also been suspect in his positioning. In the game against Chiefs, Sandilands was in no man's land when Kingston Nkhatha scored with a header from inside the box.
As the last line of defence and someone who sees positions of all his defenders, Sandilands has to organise his defence.
He has to do more in alerting his defenders to avoid picking the ball from his net regularly.
In his maiden season, the young defender is still trying to find his feet. On several occasions he has found the going tough against men that are established in the PSL. For his age and considering his inexperience, Mabaso can’t shoulder much of the blame. Besides, he is registered as a midfielder.
There are questions about his state of mind. With much speculation about him moving to Russia, Xulu has not been happy. He blasted the team on social media for preventing him from joining Rostov FC. He was away on trial for the better part of pre-season. He has to give solid performances if the Brazilians are to contend for silverware. And that's if he stays.
He missed the first two matches of the season due to suspension following a red card he received in the Nedbank Cup final last season.
Together with his partners in crime at the back, Daniels has been unimpressive.
His commitment can’t be questioned but the Sundowns left-back is simply off form at the moment. He was exposed against Swallows and most moves that resulted in goals came from his area. His performance raises many questions.
Since joining Sundowns, Mwanjale has been a top performer. He won tackles and conducted defence with aplomb but after the Asiagate scandal, of which he is alleged to be one of the role players, the Zimbabwe defender’s performance has dropped. He is no longer as dependable as he was in his early days at Chloorkop. With a cloud hanging over his career, Mwanjale is a bit unsettled.
The new signing has not featured prominently for Sundowns to be assessed.
However, he was part of defence that was punished by Kaizer Chiefs last week.
It remains to be seen if he can bring solutions to the crisis-ridden Downs defence.
Though Sundowns defenders have erred, Neeskens also has to take the blame for constantly chopping and changing his defence.
His decision to choose Nyandoro over Daniels cost them dearly in the first leg of the MTN8 against Swallows. – Pretoria News