Lethargic Downs battling to get out of the gutter

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Embattled Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is sounding more like a stuck record.

As the ‘Brazilians’ battle to get their title defence on track, Mosimane is singing the same tune in the aftermath of every match.

It’s either poor officiating, star players off colour, defensive errors, or lack of fluidity depriving Sundowns at a critical point where they need the points.

Sundowns’ 2-2 draw with Maritzburg United at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Friday night meant the defending champions’ woes continue unabated as they are looking for their first league win since the return of the Absa Premiership.

Out of a possible 12 points, Sundowns have managed to get three following three draws and one loss. For a side fighting for the league, the picture doesn’t look good.

Mosimane has been at pains to explain reasons behind his side’s capitulation with phrases such as ‘it’s difficult, ‘it’s football’ ‘it’s Sundowns in Covid’, ‘these things happen’, ‘it’s unfortunate’ ‘we could have’, regularly proceeding out of his mouth.

Sundowns, who are second on the league standings with 47 points, have faltered to minimize the gap between them and log leaders Kaizer Chiefs, whom they trail by five points.

In the match against Maritzburg, the Brazilians allowed Eric Tinkler’s men to come back from behind twice.

“When times are like this, you rather take the results than the performance but for confidence sake you will take the performance. The performance was much better,” said Mosimane.

Hlompho Kekana had put Sundowns ahead before Rushine De Reuck equalized in the first half. Sundowns would regain their lead when Ricardo Nascimento slotted in from the penalty spot. However, Thabiso Kutumela fired a beauty from outside the box to force a share of spoils.

Mosimane felt Sundowns should have gotten another penalty when his starlet Promise Mkhuma allegedly got fouled in the box.

“He was unfortunate there. I think he deserved a penalty with the push from the back. We also don’t have that kind of luck where big decisions go in our favour. I mean against Highlands, (Peter) Shalulile controlled the ball with his hand and he scored.

“Against Pirates, Happy Jele, the ball was on the floor and he came out with it, the ball on the floor and (Victor) Gomes missed it. Tonight was Promise. It’s football these things happen especially when you are in a desperate situation but I think we could have scored,” lamented Mosimane.

Sundowns as a collective have found it hard since the return. Their key players, among them playmaker Themba Zwane, have struggled to rekindle their form. Mosimane says he has spoken to Zwane about the turn of events.

“If you’re honest Themba Zwane is our most important player. Since we came back he hasn’t had much influence on the game as much as he has for the last eight years. We have to be honest with it and make some necessary changes. We had Promise in his place. Promise played well,” said Mosimane. “He understands also. We had our talk and he accepts. He says ‘coach I am not at my best.

“I don’t know what is happening’. I said ‘look it’s the way it is so we move on. You have done so well for us for all these years that tonight we can feel different about you’. We need him. He is an important player. Same as Vilakazi, we need him. He is an important player. Sirino, we need him. He is an important player. They are not at their best at this point in time. They are key players.”

Sundowns’ next assignment is a clash against Golden Arrows on Monday.

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By Hosea Ramphekwa

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