Downs will learn from tournament, star vows
Midfielder Percy Tau felt that Mamelodi Sundowns gave a better performance than the scoreline reflected against the impressive stifling football of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the Brazilians’ 4-1 defeat at the Fifa Club World Cup yesterday.
Sundowns bowed out of the Club World Cup (CWC) in sixth place, having received a lesson in efficiency and quickness of thinking from the Asian champions from South Korea in the fifth-place playoff at Osaka’s Suita City Football Stadium.
Jeonbuk were always a step ahead of Downs. With an immense work rate, they were quicker to the ball.
Disappointingly, Sundowns conceded four soft goals, which was as much a factor in the one-sidedness of the defeat as the manner in which the men from Pretoria could not get their midfield and attack functioning in the first half.
Coming back from the break 3-0 down, Downs improved markedly after Tau scored a contender for goal of the tournament in the 48th minute.
“The scoreline doesn’t give a true reflection – we tried our best and we did a lot of things better than in the previous game,” Tau said afterwards.
“It was a good game. I think they hit us with the things we expected.
“But it’s okay. It was our first time here and we’ll come back strong. If we play them again we’ll beat them. It’s a process and we’ll get better.”
Tau, 22, was singled out by his coach, Pitso Mosimane, as having shown at the CWC that he has the ability to compete on any stage.
The forward was arguably Sundowns’ man of the match against Jeonduk, who stifled the African champions impressively, but struggled to contain Tau.
“It’s good for a player to get good remarks from a coach. And I’m still where I’m trying to learn a few things, and I want to get better,” the player said.
“Just over a year ago, I was at Witbank Spurs not thinking of this moment, because I was in the NFD [National First Division].
“You can’t be in the NFD and think about the Champions League or Club World Cup. First you have to go to the PSL.
“When I came back to Sundowns from loan at Spurs, that’s when I thought, ‘okay, now I can live my dream’.”
Sundowns left Japan without a win, having lost 2-0 to host club Kashima Antlers in the quarterfinals.
Jeonduk lost 2-1 to Mexico’s Club America in their quarter.
Reinforcing the step up that Sundowns have had to make in their learning curve at their first CWC, Antlers beat Colombia’s Atletico Nacional 3-0 in a high-intensity semifinal played later yesterday.