Club honour Ngcongca at matches

Mngqithi feels Downs are favourites to win league

Kermit Erasmus of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal with teammates during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Stellenbosch FC
Kermit Erasmus of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal with teammates during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Stellenbosch FC
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

It is impossible to go the entire DStv Premiership campaign unbeaten. That is the view of Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Mangoba Mngqithi.

He does not want to put unnecessary pressure on his players but admitted they are favourites to reclaim their Premiership title. The Brazilians paid tribute to their fallen defender Anele Ngcongca in emphatic style with a commanding 3-0 victory over Stellenbosch at Loftus Versfeld Stadium at the weekend.

Peter Shalulile, Kermit Erasmus and Themba Zwane scored to help them to return to the top of the table. Each goal scorer took out a Ngcongca tribute T-shirt to celebrate his life.

Both teams wore Ngcongca tribute shirts during warm-up. The game was stopped in the 16th minute for a round of applause as Ngcongca wore the No 16 jersey at the Brazilians. The 10-time league champions will dedicate 16 games to him, starting with the Stellies game.

The players were determined to win the game for Ngcongca, and no team would stand in their way on the day.

“We would like to thank Stellenbosch for supporting the initiative to celebrate the life of Anele, and we appreciate that. They did not complain and were happy to help us honour him. We celebrated in the 16th minute of the game with the support of the match officials and the opposition. We will dedicate 16 games to him. He made the change room better with his jokes, and he did not like to lose a game. Anele was a big figure for club and country,” said Mngqithi.  

He said the league supported their initiative.

“The players wanted to make sure that they honour him and celebrate his life. We were worried that the performance would drop, but they came out strong. I was distraught when I got the news, and the young players were shattered and could not cope,” he said.

Asked if the club would go on a long winning streak and finish the season unbeaten, he urged his team to keep their feet on the ground and not think too far ahead.

“It is a 30km marathon and we are at the 5km mark. It is still early and we cannot be making noise at this stage. All coaches dream of winning every game but I do not think it is possible. We still have hurdles to face. It is better to take it one game at a time. The moment you dream  big, you might falter in your first step.”

The Brazilians visit struggling Maritzburg United in their next game at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday (8.15pm). “The next game is Maritzburg and our focus is on that game. We must stay humble. It is still early for anyone to think that we can go all the way, but it is our wish to do so.”

The coach thinks the Golden Boot winner will come from his side. “Kermit wants to score 30 goals and Peter is scoring in almost every game, and Zwane cannot stop scoring goals. I want to relax and enjoy this movie,” Mngqithi said. 

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