Everyone has been raving about Mamelodi Sundowns’ rear guard in the DStv Premiership this season as the likes of Mosa Lebusa, Rushine De Reuck and Grant Kekana have been solid as rock at the heart of Masandawana’s defence.
Unscored in their last five encounters across all competitions, The Brazilians have gone seven games without any blemish so far this season. Downs coach Manqoba Mngqithi gives much credit to his backline and goalkeepers, but he insists that their work is made easier by the players operating up top.
Mngqithi’s colleague, Rulani Mokwena once jokingly said Peter Shalulile’s energy is so much that as though he is powered by a Duracell battery. And Mngqithi agrees with those sentiments, saying the striker and fellow attackers protect the goalkeeper and defenders.
“A lot of the time we give credit to the last line of defence and the goalkeepers for the clean sheets that we get but the truth of the matter is that it is a collective effort,” said Mngqithi.
“If we check the amount of work that Peter does up top to make sure that opponents are disrupted in their pressing patterns and make sure they don’t play the way they want to play and always force them to do the opposite of what we have profiled in their matches.
“It’s one of our objectives in any competition to make sure that we keep as many clean sheets as possible but we have learnt to give credit to everyone because our midfielders and strikers play a big role in trying to minimize the exposure of our last line,” he added.
The Brazilians’ next assignment is the away CAF Champions League group stage qualifying tie against Congolese side Maniema, who they take on this Sunday.
Mngqithi says he has learnt from last season’s mistakes where they bombed out of the competition at the hands of eventual winners Al-Ahly. They lost the return-leg by 2-0 and both goals were a consequence of school-boy defending.
“We can’t sit on our laurels and say we are getting clean sheets and it is all good and well. We know exactly what happened in the Champions League last year. Al-Ahly got two opportunities and they scored both goals.
“In a game against a South African team, we would say those two opportunities were half chances and not clear-cut opportunities because when you make such mistakes at home you don’t get punished but in the Champions League, there is little room for mistakes.”