Sundowns coach Mokwena breaks down why SuperSport are so dangerous

Manqoba Mnqgithi is in charge of Mamelodi Sundowns alongside co-coaches Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena.
Manqoba Mnqgithi is in charge of Mamelodi Sundowns alongside co-coaches Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/ Backpagepix/ Gallo Images

SuperSport United’s mental toughness and aggression in the mould of coach Kaitano Tembo‚ and their tactical flexibility within two main systems are what take them such an impressive combination in 2020-21‚ says Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena.

Sundowns and Orlando Pirates have attracted the headlines as title favourites in the DStv Premiership. SuperSport’s quiet progression to second place‚ a group of intelligent footballers playing to technically-adept gameplans under the unassuming Tembo‚ should come to the attention too.

Matsatsantsa’s rise‚ spearheaded by the goals of PSL top scorer Bradley Grobler with 10 in 10 games‚ and partner in crime Thamsanqa Gabuza (five goals)‚ makes for a Tshwane derby against Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium that should be highly watchable.

“SuperSport are probably the one team who are profiled very close to the profile of their manager‚ probably the one team who adopt the character and the personality of their coach‚” Mokwena said‚ imparting one of his trademark breakdowns of an opposition team.

“Kaitano‚ being a very good coach who has come through the structures at SuperSport‚ has always had teams who are aggressive and mentally strong as he was as a football player.

“Very difficult to break down‚ but also with resilience in terms of playing through matches. And they’ve got a very aggressive personality as a team.

“They sit second on the log‚ and of course we never analyse teams in relation to their log positions because that doesn’t really tell you much at this point in the season. But you can already see that they’ve had a very decent start.”

Mokwena said SuperSport have shown flexibility within their two main 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations.

“They have quietly gone about their business with a lot of tactical flexibility‚ where they can play a 4-4-2 with two strikers with Gabuza and Grobler‚ who complement each other extremely well.

“Or they can stretch the last line up-front with Grobler‚ Gabuza and Ghampani Lungu‚ and then maybe overload the midfield with an extra midfielder like a Jamie Webber.

“And then you really have different challenges when you play against a midfield three in relation to a midfield two of Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule. Because when they overload the midfield you’ve got to look for other areas where you can look for spaces.

“But we have to look for that. We have to look for a high press of two or three.

“Then there’s also that flexibility within the first line of the left foot of Thatayaone Ditlhokwe or they play Grant Kekana [at centreback]‚ who’s right-footed.

“But generally that is the profile of the team. Generally they have been very stable with their line-up that gives a lot more tactical flexibility. And that tactical flexibility gives you more questions that you’ve got to answer.

“That flexibility also says to you they’ve got different ways of hurting you. And we’ve just got to be prepared for those scenarios.”

Unbeaten Sundowns (24 points) have seven wins and three draws from 10 games. SuperSport (22 points) have lost twice‚ but also have seven wins‚ and one draw‚ from their 10.

PSL this weekend -

Saturday:

  • SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 3pm)
  • Lamontville Golden Arrows v Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (Princess Magogo Stadium‚ 3pm)
  • TS Galaxy v Chippa United (Mbombela Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
  • Bloemfontein Celtic v Stellenbosch FC (Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
  • Baroka FC v Swallows FC (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 5pm)
  • Cape Town City v Kaizer Chiefs (Cape Town Stadium‚ 5pm)

Sunday:

  • AmaZulu v Maritzburg United (Kings Park‚ 3.30pm)
  • Black Leopards v Orlando Pirates (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
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