Denis Onyango not solely to blame for Sundowns' defeat to Kashima Antlers
Posted: 12 December 2016 Time: 14:04
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango is taking a lot of stick for Mamelodi Sundowns’ 2-0 loss to Kashima Antlers, but where were his defenders?
It would be easy to point at the decision-making and butterfingers of the potential Ugandan Player of the Year for Yasushi Endo’s first goal in Sundowns’ FIFA Club World Cup defeat on Sunday.
Onyango should certainly have saved that shot, especially after it was his wayward journey outside his area that forced Wayne Arendse to cover for him instead of picking up the runner.
But have a look at the clip below and notice how much time and space Endo (no. 25) has to get into position for the finish – with Tiyani Mabunda jogging back and Hlompho Kekana not reacting quickly enough either.
Two players as experienced and in-form as these two should have been far more alert to spot Endo’s run and sprinted back immediately to mark him and assist the defence, especially after seeing Onyango venture out of his area.
The second goal was much of the same (see clip below). After the ball is played through to Endo down the right (out of frame), it is almost a carbon copy of the first goal as none of Arendse, Mabunda or Kekana picks up Mu Kanazaki (no. 33), again with acres of time and space.
As impressive as Sundowns were in the first half (11 goal attempts to Antlers’ zero after 45 minutes), it is their defensive naivety at the highest level that cost the team a place in the semi-finals.
Besides their finishing, coach Pitso Mosimane will need to work on this aspect of his team’s transitional awareness if they are to mix it with the world’s best teams again.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you agree with the author? What else do Sundowns need to work on for their next game against Jeonbuk Hyundai?