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Tactics Talk – How Downs Beat SuperSport In Tshwane Derby

Mamelodi Sundowns moved to within seven points of league leaders, Kaizer Chiefs after a 2-1 victory in the Tshwane derby against SuperSport United on Sunday. Four key tactical factors in the victory were as follows.

-          Tembo tightens midfield

-          Game of chicken on the flank

-          SuperSport go 4-4-2

-          Sundowns gain control 

Read: PSL Prosecutor Gives Sirino Update 

Tembo Tightens Midfield

For this big game, and with both Teboho Mokoena and Jamie Webber missing, Kaitano Tembo decided to move his usual right back, Siyabonga Nhlapo in a defensive midfield role. That alteration was designed to protect the space between the lines, and also free up Dean Furman to press Hlompho Kekana. One example of it working well was in the first half was the SuperSport captain pressured his Downs counterpart into a mistake and created a decent opening on the transition. This change also surprised Pitso Mosimane who said he wasn’t sure whether SuperSport would line up with a back five or not.

Game Of Chicken On The Flank

One of the key battles in the game was between Evans Rusike and Tebogo Langerman on the Sundowns left. With their fullback expected to get forward, the question was whether Rusike would track back or 'cheat' by staying high up and being free to lead counters.

In the end, he decided not to track back much and that gave freedom for Langerman to influence the game going forward. The veteran left back created a game-high five chances and delivered seven crosses and it was his delivery that led to the opener for Themba Zwane

Rusike, meanwhile, had numerous chances to counter attack into vast space but was wasteful with his decision-making or had problems in beating Mosa Lebusa, who is experienced at covering the channels. 

Read: Pitso: Other People Focus On One Thing

SuperSport Go 4-4-2

At 1-0 down, Tembo withdrew Luke Fleurs and rejigged his side to go to a 4-4-2 with Thamsanqa Gabuza introduced to partner Bradley Grober. Almost instantly, his side won a penalty to equalise after a foul by Andile Jali. The midfielder had been crucial in stopping counter attacks before that, winning four tackles.

However, this change by Tembo now left his side wide open in midfield and Sundowns seized control of the game. With little defensive cover on the flanks, Hlompho Kekana received wide and delivered a cross for Thapelo Morena to score the winner. After that goal, Sundowns could control the game in midfield as Kekana and Jali received in deep areas – neither Furman nor Sipho Mbule could engage them that high in fear of leaving space in front of the backline for Zwane or Gaston Sirino to exploit.

Did Sundowns deserve their 2-1 victory? Which players most impressed you? Let us know by commenting below. 

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