Johannesburg - SuperSport United coach Cavin Johnson has tried to play down the 10 points deficit between themselves and log-leading Kaizer Chiefs, following a disappointing 1-0 defeat to AmaZulu on Tuesday.
Ayanda Dlamini scored in the 88th minute as visiting Usuthu stole a late victory over United in Atteridgeville, dropping the hosts to fifth in the Premiership standings and in danger of losing sight of fellow title contenders.
“I’ve never had aspirations to win the league. At the beginning of the season? Yes,” Johnson said half-jokingly after the game at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
“Now? Never. My aspirations have always been to play good football.
“When you play in the league, the league is a marathon and anything can happen.”
In an encounter that looked destined to go down as a bore draw, Dlamini's late heroics snatched three points, as Usuthu picked off a loose pass from Bevan Fransman and punished their hosts seconds from the end.
“The goal that AmaZulu scored was a mistake and that’s not accepted from an international player," Johnson said.
“But in saying that, AmaZulu took the one chance they had in the second half and they scored the goal from a mistake made by one of my players.”
The former Platinum Stars boss said he was left with serious doubts over the team’s consistency and ability to brush aside less fancied opposition, particularly after beating Soweto giants Orlando Pirates last week.
“The inconsistency, to me, it’s mind-boggling. You beat Orlando Pirates one week, and you get beaten by AmaZulu the next week,” he said.
“That’s what happens in football when you don’t take your chances and you don’t play the game you want to play, then you lose the game.
“That just takes you back three steps and you need to take four steps forward again some time.”
Johnson dismissed talk of United struggling to adjust to fixture scheduling which saw a break in local action, ahead of the African Nations Championship (Chan) tournament, currently underway in Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
“Chan is one tournament which did not affect my team in particular, because we did play way before AmaZulu,” Johnson said.
“We’ve both played two games now. The performance you saw, for me, maybe was a bit sluggish. For my team, I didn’t expect them to play the way they played.
“But you have to start like this, because it’s the next half of the season. You expect that to start [with] but you don’t expect four or five of your players to be exactly like they were tonight.
“They gave the ball away very cheaply and they made bad judgment of the ball and bad mistakes."
Matsatsantsa slipped below AmaZulu into fifth place as a result, and will have to make a quick recovery with the University of Pretoria lying in wait on Friday, just three days after the disappointment of their fourth defeat of the season.