‘Building a base we can pick from’: Mngqithi explains how Sundowns use their big squad

07 January 2021 - 11:11 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is determined to succeed along with Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela.
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is determined to succeed along with Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi has given a detailed explanation of their player rotation plan to manage their big squad that will be fighting on three fronts this campaign.

The Brazilians‚ who also played one match in the MTN8‚ have the Nedbank Cup‚ the Caf Champions League and the defence of their league title to fight for this season and Mngqithi said depth is going to be important.

Coaches‚ medical personnel and fitness trainers everywhere are challenged by unavailability of players due to Covid-19‚ which adds to the usual issues of injuries and suspensions.

“We are working on a lot of variations but one thing that is encouraging to me and the other coaches here at Sundowns is that we have managed to give a big number of players chances to play‚” Mngqithi said ahead of leaders Downs’ DStv Premiership match against Baroka FC at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.

“That is building the base where we can pick from and maybe circumstances at some stage have also contributed to us having to play in all these variations in order to make sure that we have realistic depth.

"Not depth in numbers‚ and there are players who never get a chance to play and when you have to give them a chance everybody says‚ ‘Why are you playing this one today?’

“We have broken the deadlock and now people are looking at it differently and saying‚ ‘What are they doing now?’

"In the game against Orlando Pirates it was a completely different team from what you would have anticipated but we knew what we were doing and that team was strong enough to give us what we wanted.

“In terms of the variations that we present with regards to the style of play and the shape that we bring into the game‚ probably it is guided by the availability of players at a certain time.

“When we have Themba Zwane‚ we will obviously play differently and we when we have Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane at the same time we will play differently but we have not had that combination.

"It was only in the first match of the season against Bloemfontein Celtic in the MTN where we had both of them on the pitch.”

Mngqithi went on to say that‚ with a big squad Downs will continue to rotate players to avoid relying on one team or certain players.

“We are trying to have a very big squad that is practically helping us to win matches and not a big squad but you are only reliant on 14 to 15 players throughout the season.

“I believe the players that have come in are helping the team to develop a base because that base is what we are going to need going forward.

“Like now‚ we were playing this game against Jwaneng Galaxy in the Champions League but in the back of our minds we were already thinking about Baroka FC [in the league].

"We were asking ourselves to say‚ ‘If we play Rivaldo Coetzee against Pirates‚ against Jwaneng Galaxy and against Baroka‚ are we going to get the best out of him?’

“We had to make sacrifices in some instances to say rather have him fresh for Baroka because he is very important for us for a certain type of football that we want to play with Baroka.

“We could have done the same with Ricardo Nascimento but unfortunately Mosa Lebusa is still out and we would have loved to have him so that Ricardo can be fresh in the Baroka game.”

Sundowns have had a near-perfect start in the Premiership‚ with six wins and three draws from nine matches.


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