Mamelodi Sundowns Co Head Coach Manqoba Mngqithi was full of praise for their opponents Jwaneng Galaxy, after Sundowns beat the Botswana club 2-0 in the first leg of their CAF Champions League first round tie.
Mngqithi however said that he felt the club should have made a better effort to have a better pitch prepared, as he felt the poor conditions actually didn’t help Galaxy’s cause.
Mngqithi says in the Champions League it is vital for home teams to take advantage of their own conditions, and he thinks Galaxy are a good side, but the pitch conditions forced them to play aerially, and he feels they would play better on better surfaces.
Mngqithi says that while Sundowns enjoy playing on the ground too, they had actually selected a side with better aerial strengths, and it worked out for the visitors.
“The set pieces we knew (they’d) be very dangerous with… we really believed that was one area (they) could punish us from,” Mngqithi said after the game.
“That’s why we brought the team that we brought. We brought a team that is stronger aerially, because we knew the pitch conditions would not allow us to play our normal football. So we had to make sure that we try to strengthen that department, because in the last match we conceded from a set piece, and for us that is one area that we always work very hard to make sure we consolidate.”
“But overall I think it was a good game, though the pitch conditions could be better. I believe Botswana is capable of a far better pitch than this, because this is a very good team, they can play football on the ground. And maybe it also makes it difficult for you when your pitch is not good enough, because they are very quick and a very explosive team.”
“If structurally you are looking so good but you have to depend on aerial balls, it’s because the pitch is not right. It also plays against you more especially as a home team, because as a home team you want to dominate, to initiate attacks, not rely on breaks and counter attacks, or set pieces.”
“And for me, in as much as that it could have been a strength, the fact that Sundowns plays football on the ground, and playing in a field that is not very good in terms of the pitch, would not make Sundowns play well. But the fact that you are playing at home, you should give yourself an advantage to be able to dominate the game at home, and those are some of the lessons maybe in the Champions League that are important – your home match is the most important match for you.”
“Because at home you don’t want to concede. Because when you concede at home it becomes very difficult in the Champions League. So maybe that is a lesson the boys can take, but believe me, this is a very good team that we played.”