October 23, 2021

Mokwena commends Mamelodi Sundowns mentality ahead of Chippa United test

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Despite going a man down in their most recent PSL game, the Brazilians coach was satisfied with how his charges responded

Rhulani Mokwena has commended his Mamelodi Sundowns players for their response after going a man down in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Black Leopards in Thohoyandou.

Mothobi Mvala was sent-off for tugging Rodney Ramagalela’s shirt in the 66th minute, with the scores locked at 1-1.

But the defending champions managed to rally on and eventually snatched the three points at the death, courtesy of Peter Shalulile’s second goal.

Sundowns coach Mokwena has showered his players with praise for not allowing the numerical disadvantage to defer them from claiming maximum points.

”It was a tough match for us, Black Leopards always away is from home,” Mokwena the Sundowns media team.

”The travelling, the pitch, it is already factors that are against you, they influence performance.

”Then the difficulty of having to dig deeper in relation to being 1-0 down then we found the equalizer.

”Once we found the equalizer, you could see even from the players, we scored and immediately the reaction was to say, let’s find the ball. Let’s chase the ball and take it from the net and go again to try to find the winner.

”And we squeezed everything that we had, in relation to that and then we suffered that dismissal after we were caught a little bit on a  transition and our structure behind the ball in rest and defence was not good, and the Mothobi [Mvala] was exposed, and it is what it is [he was sent off].

”We dug deep, but credit to the players for showing mental resolve and for showing championship mentality.

”I think this is what you find in terms of the culture of Mamelodi Sundowns, it’s a culture that players have of not being satisfied with the equaliser but really going against all odds to look for the winner.

”And digging even deeper in relation to all the setbacks that they faced.

”This is the culture that has been set at Sundowns and kudos to the players they deserve a lot of praise and really, in difficult moment thy have been able to dig deep and show mental resolve and championship mentality to go against all these other setbacks and dig really deep.

”Particularly when you come from a run of results when you have not won a match, you scored one, but you get into a situation where you’re going to get your fourth draw, but you go into a situation where you fight for a win.

”That is a huge compliment to the players and big kudos to them.”

The victory against Leopards saw the Brazilians go three points clear at the top, albeit having played a match more, and will look to record another victory when they host Chippa United in a Premier Soccer League encounter on Sunday to extend their lead at the summit. 

The Eastern Cape side is enjoying a resurgence under the tutelage of Dan Malasela and Mokwena is wary of the threat posed by his former side under their new mentor. 

”They got a clear profile in relation to how the coach wants them to play,” Mokwena said of the Chilli Boys’ setup.

”We all know the philosophy of coach Dan [Malesela], it’s a clear model of play that is based around having possession and dominating the ball and always creating possibilities for people on the ball to give enough ball coverage and enough possibilities for ball retention.

”And that becomes the priority for everyone on the ball and you got to understand that first because of the principles that influence the strategy.

‘’Because the principles are ball retentions, then our strategy will have to apply

”It’s a clear structure with building up from the back, and Mtshali [Ayanda] is always looking for possibilities to play through the centre-halves, and then Nhlapho [Isaac] and Nsabiyumva [Frederic]getting that single pivot in Konqobe [Ayabulela] to be able to link the midfield and try to find a Mbenyane[Andile] who plays as a ten, or try to find the inverted full-backs, and come in slightly behind Kwem [Chidi].

”So, we know the profile and we’ve done a lot of work and we will see how we are able to control them.

”But at the same time, we want to dominate, we want to find possibilities to find the spaces, that they, in their structure, present and also the spaces that we can manipulate them to create in relation to how we want to play.

”that’s how we foresee the game.”

This encounter is scheduled for 15:30 on Sunday at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, Tshwane.