Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane was disappointed to have played to a goalless draw with Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but was pleased with his team’s performance in the titanic clash.
The Brazilians and the Buccaneers put on a tactical battle in an match of high intensity that saw both sets of bench get emotional with neither side wanting to give an inch.
“Obviously when you play at home, you want to win,” Mosimane said. “Are we disappointed with the draw? Yes. I think we played well to be honest. We played a very good team. We played a team that always dominates everybody. We didn’t want to allow that. We had to press them from the top. We had to force Siyabonga Mpontshane to kick all the balls because they’re very good when they build from the back and gain momentum, that’s how they have been beating people. We closed them from the top and we made sure we look after the important players. You know Pirates’ important players, Xola Mlambo and Ben Motshwari. You have to look after those and make sure that they kick the long balls. When they kick the long balls, Ricardo Nascimento and Mosa Lebusa are strong aerially, so that ball will always come back to us.”
Mosimane continued, “The most important thing was to close spaces and not allow them to play because they’re very good. They’re a good team so we closed space for them to play. They always have parties. We don’t want to allow parties at Loftus. We are a strong team and we are a good team, they can’t just do what they have been doing. Credit to Pirates’ coach Micho Sredojevic, he has done very well. You can see that the team is very good. It was pound for pound and we came out well. I wasn’t happy with the result but I am not unhappy with the play. The boys played well. They fought. You can’t just allow teams to play the way they play. No. This is Mamelodi Sundowns.”
Sundowns were dealt a blow when Andile Jali sustained a hamstring injury early into the match. The midfielder was starting to gel into the team and was becoming a force for Bafana BaStyle.
“That was a big one for us,” Mosimane said. “We lost the guy who always gave us box-to-box in our last four games. You could even see in the first two minutes, where he was when he got injured. We lost a very good football player. But Tiyani Mabunda did exceptionally well when he came in. What I didn’t like about that forced substitute is that in the last 10-15 minutes, I knew that the tempo of the game would drop because it was hot. It deteriorated in the 75th minute. Pirates play at a high tempo but you can’t play high tempo for 90 minutes. We knew that it would drop in the 70th minute. I was holding aces in my card, I would put Phakamani Mahlambi and another one with speed to create problems. But I didn’t have another sub because I was forced into making an early substitution. My plan fell off. I knew that in the last 10-15 minutes, we could steal it.”