Mamelodi Sundowns were on the receiving end of a shock defeat to TTM in a Nedbank Cup semi-final match played at the Loftus Stadium on Sunday.
#6 These things happen
Sometimes in life, and certainly in football, it’s just not meant to be your day. That seemed very much to be the case with Masandawana as it appeared the proverbial football gods were favouring the team from the Limpopo Province.
Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi summed up a remarkable game well by basically saying, ‘these things happen’.
“In football, you must always accept that some of these things happen,” he said. “We lost the game, but I believe we played very well, [well enough] to be able to win it. But unfortunately, it was not to be, and they must be congratulated.”
Here are five reasons why Sundowns should quickly dust themselves and move on:
#5 1. Washington Arubi
The TTM goalkeeper had one of the best matches of his life. He made a string of sensational saves, including twice denying Sibusiso Vilakazi from scoring with what were close to point-blank volleys. And of course, he also came up trumps in the penalty shoot-out with a wonderful save from Hlompho Kekana’s spot-kick. It seems it was written in the stars that it would be the Zimbabwean's day.
#4 2. We didn’t see Goss
It was only in the penalty shoot-out that we finally got a decent look at Downs keeper Ricardo Goss, who had come in as a late replacement for Denis Onyango. That was because Sundowns and their defence were so much on top of the game that TTM barely had a sniff at goal and hardly even delivered any balls into the Masandawana box in the entire 120 minutes. It was largely, one way traffic.
#3 3. TTM tactics
Credit must also go to the TTM brains-trust, which included the two men on the sidelines, Mpho Maleka and David Mathebula, as well as the coach up in the stands, Dylan Kerr, who is still waiting for his work permit. Their game-plan worked superbly as the visitors were for the most part able to stifle the Sundowns attack.
#2 4. Anyone can have an off-day
The normally reliable Themba Zwane missed a guilt-edged chance for the Brazilians. Peter Shalulile didn’t bring his scoring boots for once and just couldn’t quite find the right place at the right time on the Loftus pitch.
Gaston Sirino was a little quiet and didn’t pose his usual threat. It happens, players can have off days. And of course Downs’ case was not helped by a very heavy fixture list that included a Nedbank Cup quarter-final clash the very same week as the semi-final defeat.
#1 5. Need to focus
The Sundowns players cannot afford to wallow in their defeat. Their hopes of a treble are gone, but they can still win the domestic league title for a fourth consecutive year, and are still chasing a second Caf Champions League crown. With matches against AmaZulu, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates looming large, the Tshwane side need a quick reset. With wise coaches such as Mngqiti, Steve Komphela and Rhulani Mokwena in charge, that should not be a problem.