Johannesburg - Following their 1-0 defeat to Platinum Stars in the Telkom Knockout semi-final on Sunday, Pitso Mosimane blamed a lack of self-belief for Mamelodi Sundowns’ poor goal-scoring record over the last three weeks.
Former Sundowns striker Eleazar Rodgers, scoring his first goal in Stars colours, handed the Brazilians their first defeat since August 27, ending a run of eight games without a loss.
Despite their run, Sundowns had looked unconvincing, particularly in their last five fixtures, where Mosimane’s troops had managed just three goals.
Having drawn 0-0 with Mpumalanga Black Aces last week, Mosimane remained frustrated and bewildered by his team's inability to put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s confidence, self-belief, you can’t motivate and motivate and motivate… something has to click with the players,” he said.
“It needs one goal, it needs two goals and everything comes back.”
Much the same as their midweek draw with Aces, Sundowns squandered a plethora of promising opportunities in front of goal, with the likes of Khama Billiat and Mame Niang the worst offenders.
Rodgers, however, took a rare chance in the second half, virtually the only opportunity which had opened up for the hosts, following a tidy Sundowns’ defensive display throughout the opening 45.
“It was a cruel game, that’s football. One chance, one break, nothing else and they scored. The rest is history,” Mosimane said.
The former Bafana Bafana coach felt particularly hard-done-by as Rodgers bore down on goal in the 50th minutes, after a lone defensive error allowed the lanky attacker to beat Denis Onyango at his far post.
Mosimane said the goal was identical to one Sundowns conceded against Orlando Pirates in their August defeat.
“It was a tactical mistake from the two centre-backs, it’s nearly the same goal as Kermit Erasmus scored against us where my right centre-back doesn’t cover my left centre-back.
“The player raced through, straight to the goals. We addressed it after the Pirates game and it’s been very good. It’s very sad that it comes out again. At the end of the day, I should take responsibility because I’m the head coach, the buck stops with me but I’ve addressed these [defensive] things.”
Mosimane was evidently upset by the careless mistake at the back, but stood by his players, whom he believed needed encouragement and support despite their costly error.
“You’ve got to encourage and go back and regroup. Now the players are down, they need to be up, and it’s going to take some time.
“You can’t desert them and you can’t blame them all the way. So, we (coaches) also have to take the blame. If that happens again, it means that it (training) didn’t sink in well.”