AmaZulu coach tips Sundowns to retain league title
Champions lose their first league match of the season, but Johnson says they have what it takes to successfully defend their crown
AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson says Mamelodi Sundowns have enough quality to be able to cope with their heavy fixture schedule and defend their league title.
The Brazilians are fighting on two fronts in the Absa Premiership and the Caf Champions League, where they have reached the group stages and travelling on the continent is going to stretch their resources over the coming few months.
“For now‚ I still give it to Sundowns to win the league title, but I think Bidvest Wits will be a close call‚” Johnson said after AmaZulu handed the Brazilians their first defeat of the league this season in a 2-0 win at Loftus on Tuesday night.
The defeat endedSundowns’ 28-game unbeaten run in the PSL,falling three games short of equalling Kaizer Chiefs’ record of 31.
“They have a lot of quality in that team‚” Johnson said. “Maybe sometimes it is more about getting the right players on the pitch to do what the coach wants them to do. I fancy them to win the league and I also think Wits will be there at the end.”
AmaZulu’s crucial win over Sundowns moved them to 11th place on the log.
“When you play against one of the best teams on the continent and get a win like this‚ it is a bonus because we came here looking for one point‚” Johnson said. "We did a lot of work in the first half and were worth a goal‚ even though it was an own goal. My goalkeeper got the man-of-the-match [award], but that is why he is here, he made some good saves.
“In the second half both teams defended because we were a bit tired towards the end and that’s the reason we made some changes and tried to freshen the team‚ and play simple football. We try to play a good brand of football‚ especially at home‚ and sometimes we get it right and unfortunately sometimes we don’t.”
Johnson explained whyhe started the match with reliable striker Emiliano Tade on the bench.
“A lot has been said about him since he started playing for us and he has been off the boil a little bit of late. So‚ I decided to leave him out of the starting line-up so that he can freshen himself up. And you could see when he came on in the last 20 minutes that he was hungry‚ and I think maybe I could have introduced him earlier.”