Downs’ victory over what are arguably their biggest rivals for the title was a solid statement of intent in terms of defending their league crown
Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Teko Modise is impressed with Mamelodi Sundowns’ ability to adapt their style in order to beat Orlando Pirates.
The Brazilians edged out the Buccaneers 1-0 in the first Premier League encounter of 2021, played at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The only goal of the game came 10 minutes before the interval in Pretoria and was scored by Downs defender Brian Onyango, his first for the club.
It was not a pretty win for Sundowns, who were without several of their usual attacking threats, including Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Hlompho Kekana, Gift Motupa, Gaston Sirino and Promise Makhuma, while Kermit Erasmus started on the bench as he makes his way back to full fitness.
In the end it took some backs-to-the-wall defending from Sundowns in the final 20 minutes of the game, which as Modise points out, highlights the fact that, although Masandawana are known for their free-flowing attacking play, they also have the tools to dig in and grind out victories when needed.
“Mamelodi Sundowns proved today that can defend. They did well, especially later on when the system required them to defend,” Modise said in his role as a SuperSport TV analyst. “Credit should go to Sundowns, defensively they did well.
“I thought they were very defensive, but also because the game required them to do so, because we all know how dangerous Pirates are in transition.
“We also spoke about how Mamelodi Sundowns can be dangerous from set pieces, especially with the personnel that was on the pitch today, and they got the goal from a set piece,” Modise, who played for both clubs, added.
Modise’s fellow analyst and former Buccaneer Dikgang Mabalane meanwhile believes that the manner of the win was a statement of intent from the Brazilians and bodes well for Masandawana’s hopes of securing a fourth successive league title.
“Not only did Sundowns win the game today, but they’ve shown the character of the team, the resilience of the team,” he said. “These are the reigning champions, and they’re still at the top of the log.
“It’s an intention, you can see the superiority of the team, in terms of competing in the league.”