“Everybody is very devastated.” These are the words uttered by Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi admitting that his troops are knocked sideways following their Nedbank Cup semi-final defeat to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila on Sunday at Loftus Stadium.
A determined TTM side held the defending Nedbank champions, Sundowns to a goalless draw after extra-time with goalkeeper Washington Arubi breaking the Brazilians’ hearts – the hero in the penalty shootout.
The Limpopo side produced the giant-killing performance to reach the final in their first season in the top flight and three days after Sundowns hammered Orlando Pirates 4-1 in the quarter-final.
“We made everyone aware that after a very big win against Pirates it was important that we reconnect with ourselves and fight for it as well,” said Mngqithi.
“I really cannot fault the players in terms of fighting to make sure that we come out with something. At the end of the day, it just looked like we were not going to score no matter what happens. The truth of the matter is that I cannot say that after the Pirates game the players did not work very hard.
“I really believe they gave a good account of themselves. They pushed TTM until the end and I don’t know why that TTM knew that if the game went to penalties, they would win because they even celebrated when it was finished (at the end of extra time).
“But honestly speaking, I think we made their life very difficult but unfortunately when you don’t score in a Cup match it goes down to this,” added the Sundowns tactician.
It is not everyday that a star-studded Sundowns side fail to find the back of the net in a match and miss golden scoring opportunities. Arubi, who had a brilliant match stood in the way of the Tshwane giants derailing them throughout
“I think we started the match very well. We anticipated that they might sit back. We were unfortunate that we had to make some last-minute changes to the side that beat Pirates, but saying that, the players that played today gave a very good account of themselves.
“They created some good moments where I believe we could easily have scored a goal. Sometimes in football, you don’t score the easy goals and instead, you score the very difficult goals. Washington was the man who stopped everything,” concluded Mngqithi.
Sundowns will travel to KwaZulu-Natal to face an in-form Amazulu side on Wednesday afternoon in a much-anticipated league clash at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi