15 July 2013
It wasn’t a good weekend to be a Manchester football supporter. England champions United lost 1-0 to a Singha All Stars XI in Thailand, while runners-up City went down 2-0 to South African Premier Soccer League club SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Sunday.
It was an inauspicious first game in charge of Manchester City for Manuel Pellegrini after his move from Spain’s Malaga.
Although missing some star players, the Sky Blues trotted out plenty of big guns for the Nelson Mandela Football Invitational match, but Pellegrini chose to play two different sides in each half and it backfired as SuperSport United upset their more fancied opponents.
The visitors created some decent opportunities in the first half, but were left to rue not taking any of them when Mame Niang netted for Matsatsantsa in the 56th minute. Kermit Erasmus then ensured a win for SuperSport with a second goal in the 81st minute.
Afterwards, Pellegrini told the Manchester City Football Club website: “First of all it’s my first match in charge, but for Manchester City and for me it’s an honour to participate here in South Africa.
“The players were clear with what they had to do in this game. I spoke with them before the match and we had four or five days working together.
‘I’m not worried’
“We’re not prepared to play the way we want them to play, so this was a normal match for pre-season. I’m not worried and this is what we expected.”
Pellegrini used the game to give new signing Fernandinho a run-out, but his star- studded side failed to impress.
Edin Dzeko had City’s best chance of an entertaining first half, but Ronwen Williams raced out of his goal to pull off a brave double-save at the Bosnian star’s feet.
The contest flowed back and forth as SuperSport showed no fear of their big-name opponents and took the game to them, opening up a number of chances down the right flank.
In the second half, City’s new line-up lacked some of the cohesion the first half team had exhibited and they paid for it when United, who like City had made a number of changes, took the lead through Mame Niang, who rose high to meet an Innocent Mdledle cross and head home and put SuperSport into the lead.
Substitute Kermit Erasmus then sealed the victory nine minutes from time after a strong run and shot past Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
United’s new coach, Cavin Johnson, who has taken over from Gavin Hunt, who was in charge for six years, tried to downplay the result, saying his players should not read too much into it.
He did suggest, though, that similar commitment would put them in the hunt for PSL honours.
Manchester City next face AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Thursday, 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. Kick-off is at 20:00.
AmaZulu fans have been urged to buy tickets and also to sign a Madiba birthday card. The giant card, which tour promoters Matchworld want to get into the Guiness Book of Records, is on display in Durban.
The aim is to have 10 000 signatures on it. The current world record for the most number of signatures on a birthday card is 5 339 for actor Robert Downey junior.