PSL now face in-form AmaZulu after cup ouster
Sundowns 'missed key trio' against Tshakhuma
Even with their unparalleled squad depth, Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is of the view the absence of Denis Onyango, Mosa Lebusa and Lebohang Maboe made things difficult for them in their shock Nedbank Cup semifinal defeat to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Tshakhuma dumped defending champions Sundowns out of the Nedbank Cup via a 6-5 penalty shootout win at Loftus Versfeld Stadium over the weekend. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 after extra time.
TTM goalkeeper Washington Arubi, who was brilliant all match long, saved Hlompho Kekana’s spot-kick to send the side to the final, where they’ll face fellow first-time finalists and league strugglers Chippa United at the Free State Stadium on May 8.
While insisting all his players gave their best on the day, Mngqithi bemoaned the unavailability of Onyango, Lebusa and Maboe. The trio had played a telling role in their 4-1 win over Orlando Pirates in the quarterfinals two days earlier.
“We were unfortunate to have made some changes in the last minute [before the game]. Mosa got a knock in the last training session and underwent a late fitness test… we then decided not to play him because the injury was very painful for him,’’ said Mngqithi.
“We were also unfortunate again to lose Onyango because of flu that also put us backwards when you consider that from the team that played Pirates, we lost three very important players with Lebo [Maboe] being suspended, Onyango being out and Mosa also having to be out. That made our life a little bit difficult.’’
Nevertheless, Mngqithi emphasised the players who played on the day still did well, feeling the brilliance of Arubi also played a huge role in their undesirable outcome.
“But against the players that played today [on Sunday] they really gave a very good account of themselves. Credit should be given to Arubi. I think he was outstanding,’’ noted the Downs trainer.
Downs, who top the log standings with 46 points from 20 games, face second-placed AmaZulu at Kings Park Stadium tomorrow (3pm). Usuthu are six points adrift, having played two games more than Downs.
“Our conditioning department and our rehab department are working very hard to make sure our players are in a good space to be able to come to the game of AmaZulu and deliver what’s expected of them,’’ Mngqithi said.
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