No need for any Mamelodi Sundowns panic just yet, says coach
JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says it’s not time to press the panic button following his team’s three successive draws in the Premiership, against SuperSport United, Bloemfontein Celtic and Swallows FC.
Sundowns have endured a tough time in their championship defence in the last eight days after bagging only three points out of a possible nine, albeit maintaining their unbeaten record in the league and remaining top of the pile on 27 points.
After the goalless stalemates with SuperSport and Celtic, it appeared to be third time lucky for the Brazilians against Swallows as they scored on the stroke of half-time from a well executed strike from forward Kermit Erasmus as they took the lead ahead of the break.
But the Birds’ never-say-die attitude ensured that they snatched a point in Tshwane, Musa Nyatama heading home at the death from close-range after goalkeeper Denis Onyango parried a set-piece effort back into play.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s that stage where we have to panic and feel that we have dropped big points,” Mngqithi said.
“We were not playing against pushovers, we were playing against SuperSport United, who are competing up there (in the title race) with us.”
Mngqithi added: “We were playing against Swallows, who are also up there, competing with us. We were playing Celtic, where we got an improved result considering the MTN8 (final) result, when they beat us.
“Yes, as Sundowns we want to want to win, but I don’t think people need to panic.”
Against the top three – Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – returning Swallows have snatched five points out of a possible nine.
But Mngqithi wasn’t convinced their goal should have counted.
“I strongly believe that the goal was offside,” Mngqithi said.
“And I was asking myself what is really happening because they maybe got away with the same murder against Pirates. And again now.
“But in football you must expect these things.”
Nonetheless, Mngqithi was full of praise for second-placed Swallows, who “are a very good team and playing some good football”.
“Although today, they played in patches, they are coached very well. (coach) Brandon Truter has done a tremendous job”.
It may appear that injuries have contributed to Sundowns’ slump in form with many regular starters in the medical room due to various ailments, and subsequently being forced to change their starting line-up every game.
But Mngqithi disagrees. On Saturday, the only regular centre-back that was available was Mosa Lebusa, with midfielder Mothobi Mvala forced to partner him.
With more problems in the engine room, captain Hlompho Kekana also started for the first time since late December.
“It’s never nice not having players that are used to playing together, and the quality of those players is also known,” Mngqithi said.
“But that doesn’t mean the players that we had today didn’t play very well. Mothobi played very well as a centre-back.”
He added: “George (Maluleka) played very well at the central midfield, and the rest of the guys also applied themselves very well.
“Thapelo (Morena) also played well at right-back. So I can’t blame the unavailability of players.
“But obviously you’ll think that having all the squad members (fit and available) you’ll make a better selection.”