Co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has attempted to put a positive spin on Mamelodi Sundowns’ surprise exit from the MTN8 following their 1-0 loss to Bloemfontein Celtic in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
A goal 20 minutes from time via Victor Letsoalo handed Celtic the win and some sweet revenge for their Nedbank Cup final loss to Sundowns last month.
It was a poor start for the co-coaching duo of Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, along with senior coach Steve Komphela.
“When you drag it a little bit longer without scoring a goal, you dominate and create opportunities but you don’t get clear chances. Even if you get those chances, you don’t take them, normally in football you get punished,” Mngqithi said.
“It was just an unfortunate foul by Nyiko [Mobbie] and out of nothing, a goal was created, but I think in this game there were a lot of positives. I believe we’re beginning to play the way I want the team to play.
“The coaches have worked very hard in trying to make sure that we have the right balance and the shape in midfield and to be honest, we looked very good, but when we got punished, what can you say, you can’t say you played well when you didn’t win the match.”
Mngqithi was pleased with the patience shown by his side, and says they will soon find their feet once they have more minutes under their belt.
“We patiently wanted to keep the ball in midfield, create good moments, wait for the right moment to look for possibilities behind the defence.
“In the second half we started to see those moments a lot, because when you’re playing the shape we’re playing, you expect to keep possession and not lose possession, and don’t expose yourself to counter-attacks and I think that’s where we survived.
“There were scary moments when they won the ball, out of nothing, when we’re casual on the ball, it creates moments for them but otherwise I believe we played very well, it was just unfortunate that we could not take the game.
“The chances we created, unfortunately with the offside of [Peter] Shalulile, we created some moments which could give us some goal, Gaston [Sirino] and Mshishi [Themba Zwane] also had chances.
“We had some very interesting moments, maybe one more touch could have resulted in a goal in some instances.
“But at times we were nervy, anxious, understandably when you’re playing the first match of the season but I was impressed, there were a lot of positives in my opinion.”
Sundowns are next in action in their DStv Premiership opener against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.