Shape up or ship out - angry Da Gama
JOHANNESBURG – Owen da Gama read the riot act to Highland Park’s players, slamming them for what he termed their “amateur attitude” in their 2-0 loss to SuperSport United at Makhulong Stadium on Sunday.
The Lions of the North have only themselves to blame for the loss to Matsatsantsa a Pitori whose goals came from Highlands’ mistakes. The second goal was worse than a schoolboy mistake.
Highlands’ players were caught ball-watching with no-one picking up SuperSport’s biggest threat - striker Bradley Grobler.
“You have a good result, and this happens to us all the time when you approach the (next) game with an amateur attitude,” Da Gama said. “You beat Kaizer Chiefs, and you get a good result against Golden Arrows and now you think that you have arrived.
“You think that it’s going to happen automatically here.
“Everyone knew who they must pick up in the set-pieces, and then you don’t pick up Grobler, their most deadly player. Nobody picked him up!
“And somebody knew that they had to pick him up. I don’t want to expose players, but how do you when you approach a game with a specific tactic and then a player does his own thing. It was like when we got to the final, people start to get excited and there is that amateur mentality of saying we have arrived now.
“Some of us have to be more professional and understand that you are in the team this year, and next year you could be out of it because we want to improve.
“If certain players don’t want to improve then we are going to have a problem. That’s how football works.”
The Lions of the North can’t afford to slip-up in their next two assignments - both against Mamelodi Sundowns.
Da Gama’s men will first host Sundowns this Saturday in the Nedbank Cup and then the following weekend in the league. Sundowns will be looking to shake off their disappointment of being eliminated in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League by progressing further in the Nedbank Cup and taking the fight to Chiefs in the league race.
“We want to learn,” Da Gama said of the back-to-back matches against Sundowns. “I have said it before, it takes three or four years for a team to really become a solid and consistent team.
“This is only our second season. Slowly but surely, there are players who come from the amateur ranks who are raising their hands. There are some players who can only go to the second floor, and not the third floor.
“This is an opportunity for us to grow character and to make sure that we learn from our mistakes. If we can pick something from here, we will put a good show in our remaining games.”