Manqoba Mngqithi: 'It is very uncharacteristic of Sundowns to get two draws in a row'
Successive goalless draws have seen Mamelodi Sundowns loosen their grip at the top of the standings and coach Manqoba Mngqithi is desperate to arrest the decline.
The champions failed to find the back of the net in goalless draws against SuperSport United and Bloemfontein Celtic‚ and now face the risk of being overtaken at the summit by second-placed Swallows FC.
Swallows‚ who are this season’s surprise packages‚ will assume ownership of the top spot if they are able to collect all the three points against unpredictable Chippa United at Dobsonville Stadium on Wednesday.
“It is very uncharacteristic of Sundowns to get two draws in a row but one is optimistic that the boys will bounce back stronger” said Mngqithi.
Fans will be salivating at the many possibilities that could play out this week as Sundowns host Swallows in Atteridgeville on Saturday in a game that may also be a battle for the top spot.
“Obviously the fact that we are playing against Swallows‚ who are breathing down our necks‚ makes it interesting to see and what is going to happen on Saturday‚" the Sundowns coach said.
"But the group is looking good and the team is the best even though we have not been getting the results. I think that our performance against Celtic was a little bit more pleasing than the one we gave against SuperSport. One can just look [forward] to that match against Swallows and see what happens.”
Sundowns were lucky to get a point against Celtic after Siwelele were denied a legitimate goal and Mngqithi said they could have asserted themselves better.
“It was never really a game with a lot of good compactness on our side‚ I felt we stretched the pitch a little bit more in the first half because of the speed of Harris Tchilimbou.
"Mosa Lebusa and Brian Onyango could not push the midfield and George Maluleka had to drop‚ and that made our lives a little bit difficult.
“We also struggled to retain possession but tried to rectify those things towards the end of the first half‚ and we then looked a little bit better.
"In the second half I think we were a little bit stronger because we put strong emphasis on their central midfielders Lantshene Phalane and Lucky Baloyi because they are the ones who were making life very difficult for us.
“It was unfortunate for us not to be able to get a goal in the first half from Kermit [Erasmus]. In the second half we also got some nice moves with him [Erasmus]‚ but we could not capitalise.
"Credit must also be given to Celtic because they knew what they wanted‚ it was clear that they wanted a point and there were a lot of scary moments on counter-attacks with Tchilimbou and Motebang Sera.”