While Sundowns had a number of opportunities to kill off their opponents, it was not too be as Sundowns had to endure a few nervy moments at the death, a fact that head coach Pitso Mosimane alluded to after the full-time whistle.
“I told them at half-time 1-0 was not going to help us. We needed a two-goal cushion in this game. Because Cape Town City don’t park the bus, they play, and they will come at us and that’s exactly what they did,” Mosimane told SuperSport TV.
“Credit to Benni his team plays well. But what was important for us was to shut down the midfield. To shut down Teko [Modise] and don’t give Mokeke enough time on the ball, but he still managed to get the ball. But we closed Teko down and hence Benni took him out,” he explained.
Sundowns netted through Lebohang Maboe, Anthony Laffor and substitute Phakamani Mahlambi, and the 54-year-old mentor suggested that the latter's late goal was very important in the grand scheme of the things.
“Very, very important goal, what a pass from Themba Zwane. I thought he was going to go for it by himself and he passed, it’s unbelievable. It was a big goal look at what happened at the end,” he added.
“Let’s be honest, Themba Zwane one-on-one even earlier Sirino. I mean really, we should have scored two or three more, let’s be honest. As much as they are a good team that plays very well, we could have taken it [scored more], we had more chances. But as I say, and I always say, Sundowns can miss,” Mosimane lamented.
With Sundowns now top of the pile, they are seen as favourites for the title, but Mosimane admits they are not thinking about their position just yet.
“We don’t play for that. If you start focusing on that, we are putting pressure and stress on your team. You go to play the game the way it demands,” he said.
“It’s a long way. I like to be second, but we are first it’s OK. We could have been first against AmaZulu, we had a chance to be first against Wits. We had a chance to score first against Polokwane City. The third time we got the opportunity we took it,” Mosimane reflected.
“It’s not about first, it’s about winning the game, it’s a long way. We still have Celtic and when we go to Cape Town, Benni won’t give us a free passage,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Mosimane’s opposite number was quite frank with his assessment that his players were just not good enough on the night.
“The deserved team won today. It wasn’t our best game since I’ve been here. And I think a lot of things came to play. Nerves, too many of our players were not at the game and I can’t really fault them,” City coach Benni McCarthy admitted.
“They’ve been giving me everything, every single game, but these are the games where you expect the performance to naturally just lift. But maybe it was one game too much to ask for,” he continued.
“So yeah, we made it difficult for Sundowns, but we weren’t at our best. But we have another opportunity next week against the same team, and I think in Cape Town things will be a little different. But it was not one of our best games so I accept defeat,” McCarthy said.
“I’m happy for Kermit [Erasmus], he came in and scored a wonder goal, for me that has to be Goal of the Season thus far. But it wasn’t to be so well done to Sundowns, they wanted it more than us,” a disappointed McCarthy concluded.