’I was only joking about Sundowns parking the bus‚’ says Owen da Gama
Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama has said that his comment that Mamelodi Sundowns had "parked the bus" against his team in a 2-1 Absa Premiership victory to the Brazilians at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Tuesday night was meant as lighthearted.
Da Gama said he had spoken with Downs counterpart Pitso Mosimane after the game‚ who had agreed with the sentiment that the PSL champions were defensive in the second half.
“I actually spoke to Pitso after the game‚ and he was honest about it‚" Da Gama said at a Nedbank Cup press conference on Wednesday ahead of Highlands' last-32 matchup against AmaZulu in Durban on Friday night.
“He said‚ ‘Look‚ it was hot. We had to make sure that we try and win this game’.
“And you know‚ teams like Sundowns‚ and even Pirates and Chiefs‚ know how to win games. So no matter how they win it‚ they'll make sure they win it.
“It was just a lighthearted comment where I said‚ 'You know‚ you parked the bus‚ taking off [Lebohang] Maboe and bringing on [Motjeka] Madisha‚ playing with [Anele] Ngcongca and five defenders'.
“But we've got to learn from that. If you score a goal why not close shop and you win the game?
“So we've learnt from Sundowns. But it was just a lighthearted comment.
“But Pitso admitted it himself.”
Sundowns had certainly tried to slow the pace of the game in the second half‚ after a first half in which they raced into a 2-0 lead by the 21st minute‚ but conceded Lindokuhle Mbatha's goal in the 31st‚ and a string of chances to Highlands just after that.
"Parking the bus"‚ though‚ would seem a strong description‚ as Downs still probed for a killer goal in the second half‚ though just cautiously.
Mosimane has famously in the past complained about smaller teams' defensive tactics against Sundowns.
Da Gama‚ in his post-match TV interview on Tuesday night‚ had said: "Coaches talk about parking the bus‚ but don’t talk about parking the bus when you also parking the bus."