The statistics from their’ most recent matches show that fouls have been an integral part of Mamelodi Sundown’s armoury in their quest for victory, which comes as regularly as clockwork.
When the Stellenbosch FC technical staff research their opponents Mamelodi Sundowns, it will be clear what they can expect on Wednesday night in their DStv Premiership clash at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium, Pretoria.
The statistics from their’ most recent matches show that fouls have been an integral part of Sundown’s armoury in their quest for victory, which comes as regularly as clockwork.
Stellenbosch will find that Sundowns commit a high number of fouls in matches. As a result, they concede a high number of fouls, and the resultant free-kicks do not come back to bite them.
As they run up their foul count, they incur the wrath of referees who respond by issuing yellow cards. This also does not impact on Sundowns’ ability to close out matches on a victorious note.
Despite this tasteless trend, Sundowns are on a marvellous run of victories and have been unstoppable.
Over the weekend, Sundowns defeated Chiefs 2-1 in their MTN8 semi-final second-leg clash.
Sundowns enjoyed a slight possession advantage but resorted to a high number of fouls, as the 20-12 count shows. In this match of small margins, the foul was Sundowns’ oft-used spoiling tactic and helped to disrupt the opponent’s flow of action, and it caused frustration. Their deliberate fouls drew ‘soft’ punishments from the referee, who warned offenders, and sometimes issued yellow cards.
In their semi-final first-leg clash, the match ended in a 1-all stalemate after Sundowns enjoyed an overwhelming possession advantage. Yet despite Chiefs meagre possession (27%), Sundowns committed 14 fouls (against Chiefs’ 15) and were yellow carded three times (against Chiefs’ one yellow card).
This stat suggests that almost as soon as Chiefs gained possession, Sundowns resorted to fouls, and conceded free-kicks. In this way, they suffocated their opponents’ attacking intentions.
During last week’s Premiership match against Orlando Pirates, Sundowns ran out 1-0 winners after netting a penalty. The match stats show that Sundowns led the foul count 24-6 and Pirates were awarded 23 free-kicks. Sundowns were handed seven yellow cards, against two to Pirates.
The fouls proved disruptive for Pirates, and to add insult to injury they were unable to use their whopping 23 free-kicks to their advantage.
It also points to Sundowns’ ability to cope with opposition set-pieces, which is one of the cornerstones of winning football.
Given the keen rivalry among the ‘Big Three’ it is likely that Pirates and Chiefs raise their game when playing Sundowns. Since Sundowns have undoubtedly far and away the best players in the PSL they have not been able to raise the standard of their game so that they can run lowly teams into the ground.
Last month, for example, Sundowns played newly-promoted Polokwane City and won 2-0 but they made heavy weather of their win despite the lowly opposition. Sundowns led the foul count 16-12 and were handed two yellow cards and one red card in the match.
And against another average opponent, Chippa United, Sundowns led the foul count 25-12 and conceded 22 free-kicks in the match.
These stats will raise Stellenbosch’s hopes ahead of Wednesday’s clash. It must be said that Stellenbosch can raise their game against the more fancied teams. However, by the same token Sundowns will be mindful that Stellenbosch’s players are easily intimidated and are no strangers to red cards.