We did park the bus, admits Mamelodi Sundowns’ Manqoba Mngqithi
CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has admitted that the league champions were “hanging in there” in their crucial Dstv Premiership match against title contenders Amazulu at Kings Park.
Mngqithi’s counterpart Benni McCarthy has already claimed that Sundowns were guilty of “parking the bus”, but Mngqithi believes it has more to do with fatigue due to their recent exertions in Cup competitions.
Unlike Amazulu who enjoyed a break over the previous weekend, the Brazilians played two high-intensity Nedbank Cup playoff matches, with Sunday’s semi-final extending into extra-time and then also a penalty shootout.
Coupled with their progression in the CAF Champions League, Sundowns are being put to the test both physically and mentally.
“I think it is also beginning to show we've played far too many matches in a short space of time, I think the last time they played, that's where we were playing Belouizdad from Algeria, we've played three games more in that space and we're coming to them at the back of those three games with extra-time.
“It's beginning to show, it's the truth. We never really looked very sharp, we hanged in there and tried to catch them in moments where they gave us openings,” Mngqithi said.
Mngqithi, though, praised McCarthy for the manner in which he has transformed the Usuthu from perennial relegation candidates to the title contenders during his first season in KwaZulu-Natal.
"I must also say we were playing against a very good team, we tried to push them as much as we could, second-half I think we should have had something there at the end, unfortunately three players, [Gift] Motupa, [Aubrey] Modiba and Peter in one chance but all of them could not make it count," he said.
"But I must say Benni has done a lot of good work with this team, they are working very hard, they are closing us down in some moments where they could have punished us with some counter-pressing.