The Pretoria club is aiming for a second Champions League triumph, having won the competition in 2016 under previous coach Pitso Mosimane
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi concedes the absence of fans at the Stade du TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi played a part in his side’s 2-1 win over DR Congo giants TP Mazembe in a Caf Champions League Group B encounter on Saturday evening.
Downs scored first through Peter Shalulile in the 67th minute but suffered a setback six minutes later when Ricardo Nascimento was red-carded.
The hosts equalised through legendary striker Tresor Mputu in the 82nd minute, before Lyle Lakay blazed home a free kick in added time to stun the five-time Champions League-winning club.
Mngqithi feels that the fact that the stands were not packed as they usually would have been, helped his side.
“First one should thank Covid-19 because with your supporters, it’s always different,” he told the local media in Lubumbashi after the game.
“When your stadium is full, you always give a very good account of yourself.
“So the fact that we played with maybe a not so full stadium. But I must also not take credit away from the team,” he continued.
“We knew we were playing against a very good team. But our confidence is very high. We’ve played 23 matches now and not lost a match.
“The boys fought very hard. There were some circumstances within the game that were very difficult for the boys.”
The Masandawana coach also said he thought his side should have scored three goals after Themba Zwane’s 38th-minute effort off the woodwork was ruled not to have crossed the line. Replays suggested Mngqithi had a case.
“I would also like to know whether the goal that was scored in the first half was not a goal. I don’t know what was the reason for it not to count, because in my mind, I think we scored three goals today,” he said.
The victory in the DR Congo means the South African side has a perfect record in Group B with three wins from three matches, following victories over CR Belouizdad and Al-Hilal. The other three clubs each have two points from their three matches.
Sundowns, the 2016 Champions League winners, have scored nine goals and conceded just two.