’Everybody is devastated’ after TTM defeat, says Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi
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Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi admits his team are "devastated" after their Nedbank Cup semi-final penalty shootout defeat to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Tshakuma held the mighty Sundowns to a goalless draw after extra-time before goalkeeper Washington Arubi broke the Brazilians' hearts when he stopped Hlompho Kekana's sudden death spot kick.
Sundowns were the defending Nedbank Cup champions and are currently leading the Dstv Premiership by six points with two games in hand. TTM are playing in their first season in the top flight after purchasing Bidvest Wits and are still very much involved in a relegation battle placed 14th on the log.
But all of that mattered nothing at Loftus Versveld with the giant-killers pulling off a sensational victory just a few days after Downs blitzed Orlando Pirates 4-1 in the quarter-final.
"Everybody is very devastated. We made everyone aware that after a very big win against Pirates it was important that we reconnect with ourselves and fight for it as well," Mngqithi said.
"I really cannot fault the players in terms of fighting to make sure that we come out with something. At the end of the day it just looked like we were not going to score no matter what happens. The truth of the matter is that I cannot say that after the Pirates game the players did not work very hard.
"I really believe they gave a good account of themselves. They pushed TTM until the end and I don't know why that TTM knew that if the game went to penalties they would win because they even celebrated when it was finished (at the end of extra time). But honestly speaking, I think we made their life very difficult but unfortunately when you don't score in a Cup match it goes down to this," he added.
Sundowns were certainly the better team during regulation and created numerous opportunities to break the deadlock. However, they were thwarted throughout by Arubi, who enjoyed a spectacular match.
And even when Arubi was not there to stop Sundowns, they still could not find the open net like when Themba Zwane blasted over from close range.
"I think we started the match very well. We anticipated that they might sit back. We were unfortunate that we had to make some last minute changes to the side that beat Pirates, but saying that, the players that played today gave a very good account of themselves.
"They created some good moments where I believe we could easily have scored a goal. Sometimes in football you don't score the easy goals and instead you score the very difficult goals. Today Washington was the man who stopped everything."
The challenges don't stop coming for Sundowns as they now head off to KwaZulu-Natal where an in-form Amazulu are eagerly waiting to feast on the bare carcass of the wounded Brazilians. The Usuthu are in second place and could trim Sundowns' lead at the top of the table to three points with a victory in Durban.