Masandawana responded to a difficult patch of form with a convincing victory over the Soweto giants
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says their Premier Soccer League 3-0 win over Orlando Pirates was just what they had planned as they ended a rough spell.
After going for four games without recording victory in all competitions, Sundowns reacted by dismissing Pirates 3-0 courtesy of goals by Ricardo Nascimento, returning striker Peter Shalulile and substitute Lyle Lakay.
It was the third time for Masandawana to beat the Buccaneers this season but the defending champions had been enduring a difficult run of late which saw AmaZulu dislodging them from the PSL top spot which they, however, reclaimed.
“But credit must be given to the boys, they fought, people were beginning to doubt our capacity and we have always known that we have a very good team that is capable of playing any match at any given time,” Mngqithi told the media.
“I think the game panned out the way we expected. The slight difference was that we never anticipated we would play three centre-backs and have five across with the two wing-backs.
“But when we figured that out we managed to maneuver our structure a little bit because we saw that we could play 5-3-2 and we had more space in the wide channels but the game was very tight in the first half.”
Sundowns started the match with Mosa Lebusa, Ricardo Nascimento and Rivaldo Coetzee playing as centre-backs.
But their substitutions seemed to have worked as Gift Motupa came in to provide an assist for Shalulile while Lakay grabbed the last goal.
“We did tell the players that they must just keep moving the ball and pass as much as they can. We know it was going to have an effect on their legs and we have been traveling a lot,” said Mngqithi.
“So we knew that at a certain point they [Pirates] would give in. We started a little bit shaky but when we recollected ourselves we started to use our spaces better with Lebo [Maboe] and Pitso [Sphelele Mkhulise] and Mshishi [Themba Zwane] playing well.
“We started to gain some inroads into their half and Gift played a significant role in making sure that we always have depth all the time and pin the centre-backs in the right areas where we wanted them which gave us a little bit of a chance and freedom to Peter, Mshishi and Mkhulise.
“The truth of the matter is that it was not a game we could easily win 3-0. It was very close. Anything could have happened but when the dice rolled in our direction after the penalty, we knew Pirates would be desperate and come with a lot of numbers into our half.
Sundowns now prepare to host Maritzburg United on Wednesday.