The Brazilians were without the injured Themba Zwane, and the absence of the Bafana Bafana striker was noticeable against the Chilli Boys in Gqeberha
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi believes it was the lack of potential game-breakers or risk-takers that forced his team to draw 0-0 with Chippa United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday night.
When Gaston Sirino came off the bench as a substitute, while continuing to return from injury, the difference on the Sundowns side was palpable.
The Uruguayan was willing to take on players, to support himself to beat his man and to take the game by the neck.
Before that, Sundowns went through the motions a bit – enjoyed a lot of ball, but could not penetrate a stubborn home defense.
It often takes the beating of one player to create a numerical advantage, and that was the aspect of the game that Mngqithi felt he was missing on a cold night in the Eastern Cape.
“I do not think we fought hard enough for the three points, and we did not force enough dribble or individual brilliance, an element of surprise in the game,” Mngqithi complained to reporters in the aftermath of the match.
“We were too obvious – pass, pass, pass, pass, sometimes when we play against a deep block, you have to make free kicks, you have to make corner kicks, you have to force situations until the game breaks out,” he added. “The truth is, we’re very disappointed.”
Mngqithi also admitted that his main striker Peter Shalulile was ineffective against a deep-seated home defense.
“What [the Chippa defence] they would kill the space behind Peter immediately, ”he explained. ‘Peter is very comfortable with the space behind the defense.
“When they killed the space, we needed a little more of the midfielders to enter the space – the gray zone that is the space between the midfield and the defense.”
Another problem was a lack of breadth, with Chippa finding it too easy to thwart the reigning champions.
“We could have had more adventure on our wide channels, our backs could have done better,” the Brazilian mentor complained.