Mngqithi believes Sundowns have better squad than Caf Champions League-winning group
Manqoba Mngqithi believes that Mamelodi Sundowns have assembled a slightly better squad than the Caf Champions League-winning group which featured the fearsome “CBD” combination of Leonardo Castro‚ Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly.
The CBD combination was frightening for defenders during the 2015/16 season and scored goals for fun as Sundowns cantered to the league and Caf Champions League glory under irrepressible former coach Pitso Mosimane.
A lot has changed since then with Mosimane having left at the end of last season to join African giants Al Ahly of Egypt‚ Mngqithi promoted to co-coach the team with Rulani Mokwena alongside senior coach Steve Komphela and a new combination between Themba Zwane‚ Peter Shalulile and Kermit Erasmus that is sending shivers down the spines of defenders when fit and firing from all cylinders.
“I must say we have had a lot of improvement in our attacking options in particular [since our CBD days] and I think we have got depth in that space‚ but if you look at the team of 2016 where we had Percy‚ Khama and Castro you would still say that attack [in 2016] was very potent‚” said the 49-year-old Umzimkulu-born Mngqithi.
“But be that as it may‚ I think in many positions this time around we have got sufficient cover [than the 2016 group] that gives you hope that‚ no matter what happens‚ you can still be able to play a match without others.”
Leaders Sundowns were held to a 1-1 DStv Premiership draw at home against bottom club Black Leopards on Sunday in the last match before the Fifa international break kicks in.
“But the reality now says that when you have lost Kermit and you don’t have Peter‚ things are not the same.”
Sundowns played without their goal poacher Shalulile‚ who served a one-match suspension‚ and were also without injured fellow lethal striker Erasmus‚ but the Brazilians still looked lethal with the attacking trio of Zwane‚ Lebohang Maboe and Gaston Sirino.
“But one is content with the group we have and they are working very hard with a very good team spirit and very good commitment to the work‚ which is one thing we can commend the most‚” said Mngqithi.
The 2009 MTN8 winning coach is also confident that Sundowns can match or beat their own record of 71 points that they achieved in the same continental conquering season in 2016.
“If you look at the number of points that are still available it is still mathematically possible and you always hope for it but we are not always chasing records‚” said Mngqithi.
The defending Premiership champions were on course for a fifth straight league win after scoring an early goal against Leopards at Loftus but were stopped in their tracks by the struggling Limpopo club as Roderick Kabwe scored a late equaliser.
The share of the spoils saw Sundowns move to 40 points after 18 matches and they have played two and three games less than their nearest rivals.
Sundowns are unbeaten in 18 league matches and the 36 points still on offer in their remaining 12 league matches will take them to 76 points if they keep on winning and avoiding defeats.
There will be little room for error if they are to match or beat the 71 points tally they managed in the all conquering 2015/16 season.
“We would love to achieve something better than what we have achieved in the past [71 points] but more than anything else we want to win the league.
“We want to be ahead of everybody else.”