Sundowns: ‘It’s how you bounce back’

Sundowns head into their clash with Chippa United on Saturday more confident than when they began the season.

Bad form and exertions in the CAF Champions League have combined to ensure a topsy-turvy start to the season for the Brazilians. Defeat to eventual champions WAC Casablanca in the continental competition preceded a turbulent October, which raised questions about their ability to retain their status as South Africa’s premier club.

November has brought with it better tidings, however. Even bigger stumblers Orlando Pirates fell 3-1 at the beginning of the month, providing a much-needed boost to Pitso Mosimane before the international break. The interval has seemingly helped to reintroduce hunger into the side as they put on a solid display to outplay champions Bidvest Wits in a 2-0 win on Tuesday night.

Young centre back Motjeka Madisha has arguably been one of the more consistent elements of the Sundowns set-up this term. He acknowledged that it’s been a difficult period but insisted it’s the response that really matters.

“You can’t say that we’ve turned a corner. We just have to take it one game at a time,” the 22-year-old told the Mail & Guardian.

“Obviously, October was a phase we went through of not getting results but then we managed to bounce back. It’s all about how you come back after falling. We did very well in terms of bringing ourselves back and doing what we know we are capable of.”

His defence held strong on Tuesday night, snuffing out any chances created from sustained Wits pressure in the first half. The stability allowed Sundowns to latch on to a lapse of concentration in the 61st minute — Percy Tau then dissecting the backline and allowing Khama Billiat a simple finish, albeit after a well-timed run.

There was no question about the emphatic nature of Billiat’s second half, however, as Hlompho Kekana played through a defence-splitting through ball before he latched on to it and smashed it into the far post. Billiat has struggled with injury and battled “wantaway” rumours, so the brace is surely welcome.

Madisha was quick to credit pre-game preparation for the clean sheet that laid the platform for the win. “We knew how Wits was going to come at us. We did our homework in terms of how they play, how they move forward when they have the ball,” he said. “The coaches also helped us to play very well, helped us to prevent how they [Wits] play. That’s why we ended up winning the game.”

Now the Brazilians will turn their attention to Chippa on the weekend — the team that capped their less-than-wonderful October by dumping them out of the Telkom Knockout. The game offers an opportunity for redemption and Madisha was quick to label it a must-win.

“When we played Chippa last time, we didn’t take the result. So it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re ready and we have to win this game. This will be our opportunity to redeem ourselves. Chippa is a good team so it will be difficult; it will be a tough game.”

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Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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