Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi suggests the first goal, which he felt went out of play before Monnapule Saleng’s cross, played a crucial role in their 3-0 defeat.
Pirates secured an emphatic victory to dump the defending champions out of the competition with Saleng setting up Kermit Erasmus for the opener before his two late strikes added gloss to the scoreline.
Sundowns finished the game with ten men after Aubrey Modiba received two yellow cards but Mngqithi admits they played into the hands of Jose Riveiro’s side after conceding as early as the seventh minute.
“I think we played the way we wanted to play, it was very unfortunate to concede the goal we conceded very early in the match, which I believe very strongly was outside of the goal line when Saleng [crossed],” he said after the game at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
“Once Pirates scored that early in the match, then the game favored Pirates. Because they’re a team that thrives on transitions and counter-attacks but we must also take a bit of the blame, we lost too many balls very cheap, knowing the strength of the opposition on transition – you can’t afford to risk possession like that.
“Once they decided to go in a low block, a little bit more patience is needed, a little bit more width to try and open them up slowly but patiently without rushing to force passes in areas or clip balls to the opponents.
“On transition, they are so dangerous and I must also say, ever since Saleng started playing their transitions are a little bit more clinical than before, if you look at this game today, they only had three or four shots at goal, all three on target.
“This match we had more shots at goal but unfortunately we didn’t get anything out of it and we weren’t clinical enough in the final third. I just think the early goal made life difficult for us because we always know playing against Pirates we must worry about our rest defense and breaking that low-block down and that’s where I think the game was lost.”
Pirates now await the final opposition between AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs who face off against each other at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday afternoon (15h30)