Sundowns coaches take responsibility for lack of structural clarity in win over Royal AM
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena says the coaching staff took responsibility for lack of proper preparation and clarity in roles and functions during their nervy 3-2 win over Royal AM on Wednesday.
Sundowns led 3-0 after 72 minutes through an opener from Thabiso Kutumela and a brace from Peter Shalulile, but a determined Royal AM launched a spirited second-half fightback with two late goals by Victor Letsoalo.
During his post mortem, Mokwena admitted they struggled, largely in the first half, because players were not fully prepared to implement the structural and tactical changes that were put in place to counter awkward Royal AM.
“Of course we analysed the opposition and from our analysis we knew that there was a lot of work to be done to control the out spaces because of the narrow attack,” said Mokwena.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half to settle in the structure and the formation because of the tactical changes that we made. The decision we made was to control the out spaces with centre halves.
“In the second half, we made a decision to control the half spaces with the midfielders and we looked a little bit more comfortable on the pitch and this is not a performance that we will spend a lot of time on.
“Normally I watch our last game twice or three times and do the corrections, but I don’t think I am going to watch this game too many times. We struggled a little bit with the structure, we didn’t play well and we lacked a lot of compactness.
“This one we will take it as the coaches, this one is on us. It is on our shoulders and we could have done better to help the players prepare a little better on the pitch but we take the three points.”
Mokwena added that though they didn’t get some things right on the day in this crucial victory that saw them open an eleven-point gap at the top of the standings, players gave their all.
“As I say what I have said, it is important to pass a disclaimer and say it was not because of the lack of effort and energy from the players. Players played and did the best that they could, we already had some good individual performances in the first half.
“But structurally we were uncomfortable on the pitch and when we went back to a back four and restructured, we had a little bit of control of the half spaces from the midfield and we looked a lot more comfortable.
“We were not well prepared in the structure because we changed the system. We went to a back three, we tried to use our lateral centre halves to control the half spaces on Ndumiso Mabena and Tobogo Potsane.
“In this game, it was Menzi Masuku more than Mabena because Letsoalo wasn’t in the starting line-up and Mabena played as a nine and over the last couple of games Mabena has been operating in the half space.
“We knew we had a lot of problems because that’s where they initiate the runs from, to go behind the defensive line. Their structure is very awkward because they have Thato Lingwati playing left centre half, Mzwanele Mahashe played as a centre half and the skipper is playing centre half and they have very aggressive wingbacks.”