Puzzled with SuperSport tactics
What SuperSport United usually do against the big teams, and why they have come to be known as giant-killers, is that they take the game to their opponents and press high up the pitch. In Sunday’s Tshwane derby defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns, however, they were a bit cautious. I don’t know if it was because in the previous league game against Sundowns they had lost 2-0, so they decided to change their tactics, but maybe it played in Sundowns’ favour.
Before the match I did highlight the absence of the suspended Teboho Mokoena for this game, I believe he is the heartbeat of this SuperSport side. Dean Furman is so good at covering in front of the defence that Mokoena becomes the link between midfield and attack, he knows when to sit next to Furman, and when to go forward. I think SuperSport lost a bit of bite in the middle of the park as a result of his absence, and when they did go forward, they weren’t quick enough.
With Sundowns at the back you need place to exploit them, and a strength of SuperSport is also to get down the flanks. Sundowns
right back Anele Ngcongca didn’t really go forward at all, and when Tebogo Langerman did they were able to cover, so they didn’t allow SuperSport the space on the sides that they normally get.
Themba Zwane being back was a big one for Sundowns, and their formation and tactics were good on the day. They played two number 10s, sometimes we think Sibusiso Vilakazi or Lebo Maboe is more like a false nine, but I thought it was more like two number 10s. They were able to find space in the pockets between defence and midfield, and the front four had the freedom to move where they wanted. When players are moving around all the time in attacking areas it becomes difficult. Sundowns do that well, they shift their opponents into uncomfortable positions and that is why it is so difficult to play against them. They manage the game well and can change the tempo of a game. They may not be free- scoring, but they don’t need to win by four or five…they manage in all the competitions to save their energy.
Kaizer Chiefs should have managed the game against Black Leopards a bit better. They got an all-important goal early on, because playing conditions are very difficult in Venda, but they should have controlled the game from there but couldn’t. That is to take nothing away from Leopards, they actually have a star-studded team, with quality players throughout the pitch. They got a goal and at least shared the spoils, though in their situation in the table that doesn’t really help, they needed the three points. Chiefs also got a bit lucky because Bidvest Wits lost…Sundowns gained ground, but if you look holistically for Chiefs travelling away and getting a point against Leopards is not too bad. Previously teams were not afraid to play Chiefs, but this is a different Chiefs side.
Pitso Mosimane is playing mind games by saying this is a honeymoon for Chiefs, I don’t think honeymoon is the right word. They do have a bit of an edge, and an advantage from not travelling in Africa. It is similar to when Chelsea won the English Premier League under Antonio Conte, and didn’t have to play in Europe. As for the resurgence of Orlando Pirates, it is amazing how in team sport a side’s fortunes can turn around quickly.