Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

OPINION: Sundowns losses provoke some strange reactions

Why was Sead Ramovic still talking about Sundowns long after his side had knocked them out?

Too often when Mamelodi Sundowns lose a match, it seems to provoke a seismically disproportionate reaction. Is it because Sundowns so rarely lose, that nobody quite knows what to do?

When Masandawana were beaten 1-0 by TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi on Saturday in the Caf Champions League, one journalist at the post-match press conference appeared to suggest that Rulani Mokwena’s side had come to face Mazembe with some sort of intent to lose the match.

It was a deeply peculiar question, that may or may not have been lost in translation, and which drew a stinging response from the Sundowns head coach.

Mokwena’s side had, after all, hit the woodwork three times in the 90 minutes, which is an extravagant way to try and lose a match.

Good teams lose matches, that is just a fact, and the really good ones lose matches that may well, in the grander scheme of things, not matter at all. If Sundowns beat Pyramids FC at home on Sunday, they will still be extremely well-placed in Group A to go to the quarterfinals of the competition.

The TP Mazembe Stadium is a notoriously difficult place to visit, with a hostile home crowd and an artificial surface.

One recalls Orlando Pirates’ visit there in 2013, when it took two penalty saves from the late Senzo Meyiwa to get the Buccaneers through to the group stages of the Champions League, and even then Pirates lost that match 1-0.

Only recently, Sundowns lost 2-1 to Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the African Football League in Morocco, but were able to turn that around with a 2-0 win at home.

There wasn’t really fallout from Wydad’s win over Sundowns, because they are one of the few sides in Africa that might actually be favourites when facing Masandawana at home.

Galaxy incensed

Another disproportionate reaction, however, did come from Sead Ramovic, whose TS Galaxy side knocked Sundowns out of the Carling Black Label Knockout.

Even in the lead-up to this week’s semifinals, the Galaxy head coach was still harping on about a lack of respect from Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena –the teams played each other back in October in the last-16!

Ramovic’s beef with Mokwena is that the Sundowns coach mentioned the fact that he had been missing seven Bafana Bafana players, who were with the national team in Abidjan for an international friendly against the Ivory Coast.

The Galaxy head coach accused Mokwena of disrespecting his own players, when the Sundowns head coach had plenty of talent in his squad to make up the deficit.

Ramovic had a point – Sundowns have a squad that can afford them little sympathy when players are missing. But Mokwena also has a point when he says that it is hard to simply get a team to play well when it features players who are not used to playing with each other regularly, however talented they may be.

And in any case, for the Galaxy coach to still be talking about it two rounds later is simply absurd. Galaxy have done brilliantly to make the Carling Knockout final an hopefully now Ramovic can focus on this, and not a beef with Sundowns.

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