Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi feels they are now getting the right intensity from fellow DStv Premiership teams, which will help them in the CAF Champions League this season.
The Brazilians have been dominating local football for the last five years, winning the league in succession, but have failed to make a mark in continental football since they won it in 2016.
Mngqithi highlighted that they were not getting the right intensity in the past, with teams approaching their matches with low blocks as they were not willing to lose to them.
However, Mngqithi is encouraged by what he has seen so far with teams such as Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United and Golden Arrows “coming toe-to-toe”.
“If you look at 80% to 90 % of the teams that we play against, they don’t come with the mentality to want to play and have the game,” Mngqithi explains.
“They are happy to have 15% possession and it happens not only against Sundowns but against many teams in the league where most are not comfortable confronting each other and taking an initiative.
“Press, counter-press, keep possession of the ball to make sure that the game is right, and that has had an effect on us.
“It’s probably the issue of coaches being scared to lose their jobs sometimes because coaches will resort to a low block to try and catch you on the counterattack.”
Mngqithi added this approach had affected them when they faced teams who came toe-to-toe with them, especially in the knockout of the Champions League.
“It is a good strategy for someone who doesn’t have resources to combat you. But when you are having such a lot of games, you end up having a lot of experience in dealing with low blocks,” he said.
“And that becomes a challenge when we are going into the Champions League, when you are facing teams that are coming toe-to-toe with you.”
As a result, the coach believes this is the reason why his side’s defence has not been tested enough locally as teams adopt a defensive approach.
“At Sundowns, our defence was not really tested that much locally, that’s why our offensive defenders always look very good.
“But whenever we are facing teams that are coming at us you will start to see cracks in our defensive play and realise that not all is rosy. Now I think we are getting the right intensity we need for football matches.”