Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi, whose team host Maritzburg United on Wednesday, has praised the fight of his players in their 3-0 DStv Premiership victory over Orlando Pirates on Sunday that took them back to the top of the table.
It was a first win in five matches for Sundowns in all competitions, and a return to scoring form too after a sticky spell in which they had managed just a single goal in the previous four games.
Sundowns now head the table by a single point from second-placed AmaZulu and have two games in hand, putting them back on track for a fourth league title in a row.
“We had a little bit more time to recover better. And we know when we are fully recovered we are good enough to beat any team,” Mngqithi said. “And I must give credit to all the guys, from the coaching department to all the players.
“They really fought. They knew how important it was. And I said it before the match that Sundowns is going to play.
“I knew we are ready psychologically. And we are ready physically to really fight. We could have done better.
“I still believe there were some opportunities that ended up not being utilised properly.
“But credit to be given to the boys. They put in a really good fight and we are happy that they stuck to the plan and the tactics on the day. It was encouraging to see Gift [Motupa] coming in late in the match and giving us so much in the game.
Tshakhuma v Chiefs — 5 pm
Sundowns v Maritzburg — 3 pm
Pirates v Leopards — 5 pm
“People were beginning to think that we are out. They don’t understand that if you if you look at it physiologically, it is very unfair for our players. In the last 29 days of last month we played nine games.
“And if you check from then until the end of the season, we are expected to play 20 games in eight weeks. Usually you would play that in four or five months, but we are expected to play those games in two months.
“We always knew that with a little bit of a break and a breather we would be able to recharge our batteries and come back. It was just unfortunate that we did not get the result in the game against Golden Arrows [a 0-0 draw on Wednesday].
“And in the game against AmaZulu [0-0]. I don’t even want to talk about the Chiefs [1-2] game because that is a match we should have easily won.”
Mngqithi did criticise his players for what he perceived as a lack of sportsmanship shown towards Pirates.
“When we win we must always win with a lot of humility. I was not happy with the sounds the players were making when we were keeping possession. That is a sign of arrogance and personally I am someone who doesn’t like people that are arrogant.
“We are playing against a very respectable brand and a team that really plays well. They have not lost too many matches.
“And it’s not by chance, and now when you happen to beat them, I don’t think you must embarrass and make them to look like they are amateurish.”
HOW THEY STAND