JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi remains confident that the technical team’s plans to gel the team together are gradually taking shape, despite being booted out in the MTN8 quarter-finals on Sunday.
The Brazilians failed to book a spot in the last four of the Wafa Wafa competition after a 1-0 defeat against Bloemfontein Celtic. Phunya Sele Sele got their all-important goal from Victor Letsoalo’s header in the second half.
Sundowns’ defeat to Celtic means that they’ll go another season without getting their hands on the most rewarding domestic cup competition of the season, although they’ve dominated local football for the last eight years under former coach Pitso Mosimane.
Nevertheless, as the new era began under Mngqithi, co-coach Rhulani Mokwena and senior coach Steve Komphela, the teams feels hard-done by with a defeat in their first game, although there were a lot of positives to reflect on, especially from the new players.
“There’s a lot of good that was done by the new players. I think (Haashim) Domingo played well as a 10 for us. I think (Peter) Shalulile was a constant threat in the attack. At times he lost possession cheaply but he always looked to help the team,” Mngqithi said.
“There’s no reason for me to be agitated. We did what we had to do but unfortunately we didn’t get the result that we wanted. I believe that we are building something that’s very interesting here. I am looking forward to seeing the team gel together.”
Shalulile and Domingo are part of the marquee signings that the club made during the transfer window. Other signings include Bafana Bafana internationals Kermit Erasmus and Aubrey Modiba, who both started from the bench against Celtic.
Sundowns needed the reinforcements if they are to have a shot at defending two of their three trophies – the DStv Premiership and Nedbank Cup – and still remain a force to be reckoned with in the Caf Champions League.
Mngqithi, however, concedes that they’ll have to release players who haven’t necessarily come to the party at Sundowns, considering that the squad is a little oversized at training – making it difficult to give every individual a chance and attention.
“There’ll be players that will be released. But we have to look at the situation carefully because we have a very big squad at the moment. We need a seizable squad that we’ll need to work with, without too many disturbances,” Mngqithi said.
“We are hopeful that in the next week or two we’ll be able to get a squad that will remain with us and other players will be able to get opportunities to go and play somewhere else.
“We definitely won’t be having the squad that we have.”
Sundowns will begin their Premiership title defence on Saturday away at the FNB Stadium (3.30pm kick-off) against the team they pipped for the championship on the last day of the 2019/20 season – Kaizer Chiefs.
Amakhosi, though, will be buzzing with confidence heading into this much-anticipated encounter after starting life under coach Gavin Hunt on a positive note, defeating Maritzburg United 2-1 to progress to the semi-finals of the MTN8 competition.