Mngqithi says Sundowns not focusing on log table: ‘Our focus is on our processes’
Rampant champions Mamelodi Sundowns are cruising to an unprecedented record-breaking fourth Premiership title on the trot, but coach Manqoba Mngqithi insists they are not looking at the log table‚ even though they enjoy an intimidating lead.
Sundowns won their 16th match of the league campaign as they narrowly beat mid-table TS Galaxy through a solitary goal from red-hot Namibian striker Peter Shalulile in Nelspruit on Sunday to stretch their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership to seven points with four matches remaining.
Mngqithi was asked after the 1-0 win at Mbombela Stadium whether he smells the triumph of the Premiership title‚ or if Sundowns have it in the bag already.
“Our focus is not smelling it or getting it‚ our focus is on our processes‚” said Mngqithi.
The Sundowns coach said the match against Galaxy was the start of what he calls a cycle of the last remaining five matches in which they are targeting nine points out of a possible 15.
“We were playing our first match of our last cycle and we are happy we got maximum points.
"In the next four games we are still expected to get probably a minimum of nine points‚ which will make us to be very happy with the cycle.
“It would be nice to get 15 points. But our focus is more on that process [cycle], more than focusing on what the log table [looks like].”
Sundowns’ coronation as champions could be confirmed later this month with matches against stuttering city rivals SuperSport United on May 26 and Swallows three days later, and by then their only remaining title challenger, Benni McCarthy’s AmaZulu, could have reduced the gap to four points if they beat struggling Baroka on Tuesday May 11 in Umlazi (3pm).
“To us our benchmark and our legacy will be determined by what we did in this cycles and see where they take us‚” said Mngqithi.
Sundowns have played the same number of matches as AmaZulu after they lagged behind due to their participation in the Caf Champions League‚ where they face former coach Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly in the first leg of the quarterfinals in Cairo on Saturday (9pm SA time).
Mngqithi said it was crucial for Sundowns to win the matches they had in hand.
They scored five goals without conceding as they beat Orlando Pirates and Maritzburg United in the past two weeks to put some considerable distance between themselves and AmaZulu.
“So it is very important that during the stress of the Champions League at least we are almost there in getting the number of points we are looking for.”
After their battle with Ahly at the Al Salam Stadium on Saturday‚ Mosimane will return to his home country with the Egyptian giants, determined to knock out Sundowns in the second leg in the following week in the nation's capital in Atteridgeville on May 22 before their next Premiership engagements.