It is almost impossible for Richards Bay to do what Leicester City did in England because Mamelodi Sundowns’ squad quality is that of Manchester City, said Natal Rich Boyz co-coach Vasili Manousakis.
Sundowns, who camped in the half of Bay for almost the whole game, were frustrated at King Zwelithini Stadium on Friday as the KwaZulu-Natal side remained resolute in blocking all the attacking angles.
But Sundowns kept their fluid going and it took football magic from Aubrey Modiba to lob the ball over and Cassius Mailula’s first time hit beat outstanding Salim Magoola in goals.
While Bay grew in the second half, Sundowns put the game beyond doubt in the 66th minute when Haashim Domingo knock the ball in the empty net after Magoola was let down by the wet surface, pushing Marcelo Allende’s vicious shot from the angle and the former Bidvest Wits attacking midfielder was the quickest to react and prod it home.
But Bay did not go down without a fight, hassling Sundowns. Ronwen Willaims denied Luvuyo Memela from close range and Yanela Mbuthuma was unlucky to be seconds behind the cross in the second half to finish off.
Mbuthuma also had a big penalty shout late on when Mothobi Mvala hacked him in the box but referee Thando Ndzandzeka waved it away instead.
“They are a phenomenal team, but of course there is a long way to go with 15 games to go,’’ said Manousakis after the game.
“The title is not won now, only half a season is gone. But what I’m saying to you, it is going to be very difficult for anybody to catch them. That’s my personal view.
“I can sit here and praise Sundowns, but it is a fantastic team, well coached, Rulani Mokwena, Steve Komphela, Manqoba Mngqithi, Wendell Robinson – these are unbelievable coaches.
“These guys know how to win titles, they know when to change gears, they know when to acquire players – we are dealing with Man City of South Africa.”
Sundowns, under Mokwena, have been brilliantly good. This win was their fifth successive under the former Orlando Pirates coach. In these five matches in charge, they have scored 14 goals without conceding, lying on top with 37 points after 15 matches.
In fact, this was their ninth successive league win, with the last time they lost a game was against Gavin Hunt’s SuperSport United in September.
However, this was just the third loss Bay has suffered this season, with all coming against big oppositions. The others came against Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport, with the newbies’ side lying third in the table with 26 points after 15 games.
“It tells us we don’t have the resources, it tells us that we don’t have the depth in the squad that they have,” Manousakis said in losing to what are so-called big teams in their maiden top-flight campaign.
“It tells us that we are able to compete and that’s exciting for the rest of the season and for the challenge ahead.”