Mosi­mane backs his de­fend­ers af­ter they made er­rors against Barcelona

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - MAZOLA MOLEFE is of­ten @su­per­journo

PITSO Mosi­mane frowned at a suggestion that the Mamelodi Sun­downs de­fence may be the weak­est link in a team that has been in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent af­ter er­rors at the back gifted Barcelona two goals in their friendly match on Wed­nes­day night.

Per­haps it is a lit­tle un­fair to ar­gue that the coach should con­sider look­ing else­where to re­in­force his back four given they were play­ing against a team of Barcelona’s stature, but it must be pointed out that the mis­takes in the 3-1 de­feat were a bit school­boy­ish.

Just min­utes af­ter kick-off of the Nelson Man­dela Cen­te­nary clash at FNB Sta­dium, cen­tre half Bang aly Souma­horo care­lessly gave the ball away to O usma ne Dem­bele who didn’t waste time mak­ing the Ivo­rian pay for sur­ren­der­ing pos­ses­sion so cheaply.

And then in the sec­ond half, cap­tain Hlom­pho Kekana was too ca­sual in play­ing the ball from the back as per Mosi­mane’s in­struc­tions at half-time, al­low­ing An­dre Gomes to ben­e­fit from the mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion to score what was then Barcelona’s third on the night.

“It was sim­ply stage fright, that is how to best sum it up. We were play­ing Barcelona, give the guys a chance. When we play against Pi­rates and Chiefs we don’t have this.” said Mosi­mane be­fore tak­ing of­fence when names of Bid­vest Wits duo, cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi, were put for­ward as al­ter­na­tive op­tions by a jour­nal­ist.

“They were ner­vous and had anx­i­ety.

“Ban­galy made a mis­take, it’s nor­mal. And Kekana nor­mally comes out with the ball at the back there, but they were a lit­tle con­fi­dent be­cause at half-time I told them to play the way Sun­downs way.

“I said they should not be afraid be­cause Ban­galy made a mis­take. Do you think Hlatshwayo could have stopped those goals? I mean re­ally ...

“How can he stop Barcelona? He must stop Sun­downs first.”

Although those two names ap­peared to rub the coach up the wrong way, the point was that when Sun­downs go up a level, like the Fifa Club World Cup in 2016 for in­stance, they seem to al­ways hold their own in at­tack.

But their de­fence their Achilles Heel.

“I don’t agree that if we had signed other play­ers from wher­ever else we would have done bet­ter. No, we made mis­takes, let’s be hon­est. We gave them the two goals. But un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stance, we are not that bad.” said Mosi­mane.

“The class of D em be le and them was there for ev­ery­one to see. He is a 21-year-old who is right footed, but fin­ished that pow­er­fully with his left foot. We also knew that he cuts in a lot. I don’t think our de­fence was bad. If we didn’t give them the two goals, who knows, maybe we could have held on longer. But what we need to speak about is the (poor) fin­ish­ing in the coun­try. Our fin­ish­ing could have been bet­ter and I al­ways say to Percy Tau that we need to work on that.”

Whether Mosi­mane agrees or not, the Brazil­ians will have to learn not to be over­whelmed by the oc­ca­sion when they con­tinue their jour­ney to a sec­ond Club World Cup ap­pear­ance via the CAF Cham­pi­ons League route.

Sun­downs, the 2016 African cham­pi­ons, travel to Con­akry in Guinea to face Horoya in the group stages on Tues­day as they look for their first win fol­low­ing the 1-1 draw at home against de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Wy­dad Casablanca two weeks ago.


FRIENDLY BAT­TLE: Hlom­pho Kekana and Paulinho were con­stant com­pan­ions in the mid­dle of the park dur­ing the Nelson Man­dela Cen­te­nary Chal­lenge at FNB sta­dium on Wed­nes­day night.

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