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Mngqithi admits Sundowns were devastated by Swallows' last-gasp 'sucker punch'

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi.
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Musa Nyatama’s 97th-minute headed equaliser with the last touch of the game was the “sucker punch”‚ said Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi after his team’s dramatic last-gasp 1-1 DStv Premiership draw against Swallows FC.

Mngqithi conceded that “it really felt bad” for his team to draw a match at Lucas Moripe Stadium that they thought they had done enough to win.

Downs dominated the first half in oppressive heat to take a lead via Kermit Erasmus’s 40th-minute strike.

The PSL leaders and back-to-back defending champions appeared to have done enough to shut second-placed Birds out in the second half. Then Kagiso Malinga’s free-kick seconds past referee Luxolo Badi’s five minutes of added time was parried by Denis Onyango into the path of Nyatama‚ who headed an equaliser.

“The equaliser was a sucker punch because in those five minutes our players lost character. They started kicking balls out and not playing even when they had options around them‚” Mngqithi said afterwards.

“And that resulted in that foul which resulted in the goal. But I feel the goal was offside. I still maintain that‚ though I still have to review it [in the replays].

“But the truth of the matter is it really felt bad in a game where we felt we had done everything in our power to get the result‚ and it was at the death of the game that we conceded the silly goal.”

Mngqithi said the injury-plagued Brazilians’ replacement players came through the game well‚ though the absence of regulars did also make a difference. Notably Mothobi Mvala dropped to central defence next to Mosa Lebusa in the absence of Ricardo Nascimento‚ Brian Onyango and Soumahoro Bangaly.

“It’s never nice to play a game without some of the players who have had more game time together‚ and the quality of those players is also known. But that doesn’t mean the players who played today did not perform well‚” Mngqithi said.

“Mothobi played very well as a centreback. George [Maluleka] played very well in central midfield.

“The rest of the guys also applied themselves. Thapelo [Morena] also played very well at right fullback.

“So I cannot blame the result to the unavailability of all those players. But obviously you would think that when you have got all your squad member you will always have better selection‚ and better options even as substitutes‚ and dominate the game.

“But‚ be it as it may I still feel the guys who got an opportunity to play today gave a very good account of themselves.”

Sundowns meet Black Leopards next at Thohoyandou Stadium on Wednesday.