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Tactics Talk: Four Factors In Downs’ Draw With Wits

Before this crunch match in the title race, coach Pitso Mosimane urged his side to control their emotions and avoid defeat. Wits had a chance to go five points clear with a win.

We take a look at four factors that led to the game ending in a stalemate:

·         Both Teams Bulked Up Midfield

·         Wits Spurn Chances

·         Downs Down to Ten

·         Wits Lack Box Presence


Both Teams Bulked Up Midfield

When the teams were announced, it was clear that Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane were concerned about the midfield battle. Wits used Keagan Ritchie as an extra central midfielder. He did a good first half job in keeping Themba Zwane and Hlompho Kekana quiet and was a threat himself – his pass set Fagrie Lakay away for Wayne Arendse’s red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Sundowns used Lyle Lakay on the left of midfield with Gaston Sirino spending the game kicking his heels on the bench. These defensive selection choices meant less creative players on the pitch. Did both coaches set up for a draw?

Wits Spurn Chances

As Sundowns played a conservative first half having taken an early lead through Phakamani Mahlambi, so Wits could assert themselves on the match. However, their only goal came from a howler from Ricardo Nascimento as Gift Motupa robbed him and chipped Denis Onyango. Wits also hit the post through Gift Motupa, had Onyango foil Motupa and saw Lakay put a shot over the bar from a good position. Gavin Hunt’s selection of mobile attackers caused issues for Sundowns’ ageing defence but they wasted clear openings in the first half. 

Downs Down to Ten

With Sundowns down to ten men from the 37th minute, Pitso responded by dropping his team very deep and playing for the draw. Pitso’s side did not create any openings with a man less, and after 69 minutes, then replaced Mahlambi with Rivaldo Coetzee and shut the game down. With lots of delaying tactics and experienced game management, they were comfortable in the second stanza. Andile Jali came on towards the end to further reinforce the defence. 

Wits Lack Box Presence

With Sundowns camped deep in the second half, the pace of Motupa and Lakay had very little influence. It took Hunt until 79 minutes had been played to throw on Simon Murray as a target man. He said after the game that Elias Pelembe came on to play narrow, and with Deon Hotto being subbed off, Wits lacked crossing options and box presence to attack any deliveries. Lehlohonolo Majoro was an unused sub. This seems to indicate that Wits were happy with a draw even against ten men.  

Between Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt, who do you think should be happier with the draw? Was the red card the correct decision? Should Sundowns have brought on Gaston Sirino and Emiliano Tade? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below! 


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