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Why Sundowns coaches do not Put blame goalkeeper Denis Onyango

Denis Onyango earned a red card in the dying stages of Mamelodi Sundowns' 2-0 win against Sekhukhune United on Saturday, keeping the Brazilians solidly atop the DStv Premiership. Downs co-coach Rulani Mokwena said the series of errors that placed Onyango under pressure at Tuks Stadium demonstrated how goalkeepers, as the last man, are not always at blame, even when they make blunders. Mokwena had defended Onyango in midweek, when the large Ugandan keeper's blunders contributed to Sundowns blowing a 2-0 lead and drawing 2-2 with SuperSport United.

Onyango had practically no option but to foul replacement Tshediso Patjie outside the box against Sekhukhune on Saturday, when the striker ran in alone after intercepting Mosa Lebusa's back-pass. "A lot of people will talk about the red card, but the fact is — and I usually tell the players this — there are probably five or six errors before the greater one," Mokwena said. "Even against SuperSport, everyone talks about Denis, but I could tell you about Khuliso Mudau's marking and the foul that Thabiso Kutumela commits that he shouldn't." And if you don't commit that foul, you won't be able to concede the goal.

Even [on Saturday], it's a straightforward position in which we should proceed with the ball into the middle, and there's no reason why the pass should go back to Grant Kekana, and then back to 'AJ' [Andile Jali], and then back to Grant Kekana. And when we get to Mosa, who obviously believes the pass should go to Denis at that point because there are two strikers, and the one striker is a little buried on his shoulder, the pass catches him off guard." And you can see by his body stance that he wasn't anticipating the pass. But it will come, and then he must dedicate himself to solving the problem of having an aggressive striker.

"And that's part of what it's like to play for Sundowns." As a Sundowns centre-back, you must be able to play under pressure and assist the team in not just retaining possession but also progressing closer to the opposition's goal with the pass. And he was unable to do so. Then there was the blunder that jeopardized Denis.

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Denis Onyango Downs Onyango Rulani Mokwena Sundowns


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