Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi believes his team have the character to bounce back from a rare defeat to qualify for the Caf Champions League semi-finals.
Sundowns, who have lost only four Caf Champions League matches in the last three seasons, trail Angolan side Petro de Luanda 2-1 after losing their first-leg quarter-final at the Estádio 11 de Novembro last week.
But with Sundowns back at the FNB Stadium, which can accommodate close to 50 000 spectators this Saturday after South Africa’s Covid-19 restrictions were eased recently, Mngqithi is confident the Brazilians can overcome the deficit.
“We went to [AS] Otoho and we lost 2-1 and we came back and scored three. We went to Zesco [United] we lost 2-1 and we came back and scored two. We have done this before,” Mngqithi said.
“I want to look at what is positive because I gather a lot of strength from positive energy. So, the fact that we did not win against Wydad [Casablanca] when we needed one goal to win, we understand. The fact that we did not win against [Al] Ahly last year, the mount was a bit steep for us because we allowed them to score two goals away and when you allow two goals away from home without any reply, it becomes difficult because if they score one goal it becomes a mess.”
“But we believe we have the capacity to do well. We played against Chicken Inn, in those early stages in 2016, they beat us 1-0 and we came back home and we beat them. We’ve got the experience of coming back and we’ve won a lot of matches to believe that our team is good enough.
“In the last four years, I think we have lost four matches and that is something that carries us and makes us believe that as Sundowns we have capacity to come back and win every match that is in front of us,” he added.
The experienced tactician, who was part of the 2016 Sundowns Caf Champions League winning team as assistant to coach Pitso Mosimane, however, is just hoping that the officials utilise the technology available in the correct manner.
Sundowns had an equaliser cancelled out in Talatona when the referee called on VAR to rule that Mothobi Mvala had committed a foul in the build up to Neo Maema’s “goal”.
This was in contrast to when the officials opted not to use VAR to issue a red card to Petro’s Quinito for a foul on through-on-goal Thapelo Morena. Quinito was only cautioned.
“You expect the referee to go to the screen and make sure of what he thinks. In Africa they choose what they want to check,” Mngqithi said.
“There was a foul on Thapelo in the first five minutes of the game. The last defender is the one that pulled him and you would expect the defender to get a red card. But if the referee is not sure he has to go and check (the monitor). If the referee does not even want to go and check, as if he is 100 percent sure, it is not proper.
“With the goal Neo scored, the referee is less than two metres away from the incident (Mvala’s foul). The camera angle is impeded by the position of the referee. But the referee is closest and deems it necessary to continue. He made the call up until three or four combinations later and we scored the equaliser.
“Suddenly he goes to VAR. It is a bit of an issue … maybe it is teething problems, we don’t want to make excuses. (But) in some instances referees have been making mistakes and have even gone to the screen and come back with the wrong decision. We have seen this in many instances. Human error is still there with VAR.”