Following his side’s 3-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic, Mamelodi Sundowns boss Pitso Mosimane said he was delighted to have buried the memories of last season’s defeat against Clinton Larsen’s men.
Earlier this year and towards the end of last season, Celtic stole a narrow 1-0 win over Mosimane’s team in Pretoria, after goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands and defender Alje Schut clashed heads in a defensive blunder which allowed Ruzaigh Gamildien to send the visitors home with a hard-earned three points.
But goals from debutant Cuthbert Malajila, Hlompho Kekana, and Teko Modise erased those painful memories yesterday, leaving Mosimane jubilant on the opening day of Sundowns’ new Absa Premiership campaign.
“We played Bloemfontein Celtic in Pilditch Stadium (last season). My goalkeeper collided with my centre back and they (Celtic) scored,” Mosimane said at the Free State Stadium after the game.
“We should have scored three or four goals on that day. I don’t forget that.
“I’m happy that we’re back. We settled the score. It’s not personal, but the way we lost against them last season, I said this would never happen again.”
Malajila, one of five new faces in Mosimane’s starting line-up, had the pick of the goals, thundering past goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb in the second half, to make the perfect start to his career with the Pretoria club.
“Malajila scored a brilliant goal, that’s why we bought him,” Mosimane said of his new striker’s goal.
The result marked Mosimane’s first game in charge from the beginning of a new season, after the former Bafana Bafana coach replaced Johan Neeskens in December last year, guiding the Brazilians to a disappointing 10th-placed finish.
But yesterday, Mosimane appeared bullish about his outfit’s chances in the new season, calling on his players to live up to expectations and deliver attractive soccer for their supporters.
“I said last season that we need to get back. We need our integrity back,” he said.
“Sundowns must play football that Sundowns deserves.
“We are back, (but) it’s still early, we aren’t solid yet. We still have to face other strong teams.”
Meanwhile, on a weekend where the match officials stole the headlines, Celtic coach Larsen vented his discontent at referee Daniel Volgraaf, who made several dubious decisions, including a red card to each team, as both teams ended the match with 10 men on the pitch.
Walking down the tunnel at half-time, Larsen unleashed on Volgraaf and had a full go at the official, voicing his discontent at the questionable red card ruling on Celtic’s John Arwuah just before the break.
Volgraaf’s controversial afternoon was to continue, after he awarded both Sundowns and Celtic penalties for what Mosimane described as “soft infringements”.
“It’s difficult. 10 against 12 is very difficult, especially against a team of Sundowns’s calibre,” Larsen said at the end of the game.
“I don’t even think it was a penalty (the one awarded to Celtic). I think the referee was just making up for the blunders early on.”
In the weekend’s other results, Kaizer Chiefs ousted league newcomers Mpumalanga Black Aces 1-0, Moroka Swallows grabbed a late 1-0 victory over AmaTuks, while SuperSport United thrashed 10-man Free State Stars 4-1 in Atteridgeville.
Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows played to a 1-1 draw, Maritzburg United beat Polokwane City 1-0, before Wits and Platinum Stars played to a goalless draw.
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