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How Mamelodi Sundowns rose to Jwaneng Galaxy’s aerial threat – Mngqithi

The 2009 MTN8 title-winning coach indicated that Masandawana won’t underestimate their opponents in the second-leg match

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Manqoba Mngqithi has revealed how he masterminded a win over Jwaneng Galaxy in their Caf Champions League match on Tuesday afternoon.

The Tshwane giants brushed aside the Botswana champions 2-0 in the first-round first-leg match which took place at Lobatse Stadium. 

Mngqithi explained that they had a plan to neutralize Galaxy’s aerial threat and he was also impressed by Ivorian striker Dion Sede Junior, who kept the Masandawana defence busy. 

“The game was a tough one. We knew it was not going to be easy. We have played against these guys [before]. We have played them three or four times. We know they are a hard-running team,” Mngqithi told the media. 

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“We know they are a very strong team on set-pieces. Number 19 [Ditsele], if I am not mistaken, is very influential and he is established on how the team plays. The Ivorian striker worked very hard. 

“He was everywhere on the pitch and he gave a good account of himself. It is encouraging to see how much work that boy does. So on set-pieces, we knew they would be dangerous with the Ivorian, Ditsele, number 14 [Isaac Paeye] and number 5, the centre back [Fortunate Thulare].”

Rarely used defender Bangaly Soumahoro surprisingly started for Sundowns as Mngqithi looked to combat Galaxy’s aerial threat from set-pieces, crosses and long balls. 

“We really believed that it was one area they can punish us from because they have very good delivery and those boys are very aggressive on set-pieces that is why we made sure that we brought a team which was strong aerially because we knew the pitch condition did not allow us to play our normal football,” he continued. 

“So, we had to make sure we try to strengthen that department because even in our last match – we conceded from a set-piece. For us, it is one area which we are always working hard to make sure we consolidate on.”

The 49-year-old tactician is expecting a difficult match against Galaxy in the second-leg encounter which will be played in South Africa on January 5. 

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“That one is a little bit of a tricky one because we will not be with the players during the Christmas break [as] we will give them a few days off,” he added. 

“We are having a game on the 2nd [January] against Pirates and the 5th [January] we are playing you guys [Galaxy]. We know it is not going to be an easy game for us because it will depend on how people party [during the Christmas break], but I am optimistic that we will come right. 

“Our boys understand the value of getting into the group [because] that is what we always play for. For us, it is more than important to make sure that in the Champions League we have the dominance that is required.”  

The winner on aggregate between Sundowns and Galaxy will advance to the group stage, while the losing team will be relegated to the Caf Confederation Cup play-off round. 

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