Mamelodi Sundowns’ co-coach Rulani Mokwena has backed goalkeeper and captain Denis Onyango after his two blunders cost them maximum points against arch-rivals SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby on Wednesday night.
SuperSport started well at Loftus Versfeld, with Thamsanqa Gabuza rattling the crossbar as early as the first minute. But the Brazilians turned the game on its tide as they dominated possession and started knocking on the visitors’ door.
They found the breakthrough via a delightful long-range curler from Neo Maema on the stroke of half-time. But the 25-year-old attacker was not done, setting up Peter Shalulile with a lovely chipped pass early in the second stanza.
But from thereon, they put the foot off the gas, allowing SuperSport back into the game. Onyango came to their rescue at first, parrying away a high-flying Ghampani Lungu header. He would, however, soon turn from being a hero to villain.
Teboho Mokoena unleashed a long-range effort that Onyango failed to deal with as it bounced off his chest before Lungu capitalised on the rebound. And it wasn’t long before Mokoena drew his side level – punishing the sloppy Onyango.
The Bafana Bafana midfielder unleashed a long-range free-kick that sailed towards Onyango’s bottom corner but the former Ugandan No. 1 missed his clearance, allowing the ball to bounce and go past him as the visitors drew level.
“Football is a game of mistakes. Part to being the goalkeeper is the understanding that yours might be more costly than many others from the players on the pitch. But the reality is that Denis is a top, top goalkeeper,” Mokwena said.
“But as they say, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. These are part of the game. He’s got our support. We’ll show the corrections and analyse the game as we always do. And even when we win, we try to get the lessons and improve.”
He added: “Today was a difficult moment. We’ll still do our corrections and analyse – not just Denis. I know the state of football says that when you make mistakes you have to become the scapegoat. But we have to refrain from that.”
And those were the first goals that Sundowns conceded in the league in 11 matches since the start of the season, while they also extended their winless run to two matches - having drawn 0-0 with Cape Town City last weekend away.