Pellegrini’s Man City loses SAfrican tour opener

New coach Manuel Pellegrini will need a little more time to mold

Manchester City into a Premier League title challenger after it

lost 2-0 to Supersport United to open its pre-season tour of South

Africa on Sunday.

Senegalese striker Mame Niang and South African international

Kermit Erasmus scored second-half goals for Supersport at Loftus

Versfeld to beat a City team clearly in pre-season mode and far

from top gear.

Edin Dzeko and James Milner went closest to scoring for City,

while Pellegrini fielded completely different lineups in each half.

Brazil midfielder Fernandinho started for City in a subdued debut

alongside young Spanish midfielder Denis Suarez. Both made way in

the wholesale changes for the second 45.

Niang rose between defenders Joleon Lescott and Matja Nastasic

to head past reserve goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon for the opener in

the 56th minute. Erasmus ran on to a defense-splitting pass to

flick the ball past Pantilimon and into the far right corner for

the second in the 82nd.

Dzeko had combined with Samir Nasri to force a double save from

Ronwen Williams in the opening 20 minutes and Milner was denied by

a combination of substitute `keeper Boalefa Phule – one of

Supersport’s host of changes – and a diving block by a defender in

the 73rd.

Apart from that, City created little and wasn’t anywhere near

its best form having only started proper pre-season preparations

last week, according to Pellegrini.

”I think it’s always important to win but it’s not the most

important thing at the moment,” Pellegrini said. ”We are very far

(from top form). We’ve just had our first week. When pre-season

continues, after three weeks or a month, we will see where we


The likes of goalkeeper Joe Hart, captain Vincent Kompany,

Fernandinho, Nasri and Dzeko all went off at halftime, with Lescott

and Nastasic coming on and Yaya Toure taking over as skipper.

Toure had a speculative long-range shot in the 76th that sailed

over the crossbar before he limped off at the very end.

City’s players unveiled a shirt dedicated to ailing former South

African President Nelson Mandela before kickoff, and the Premier

League visitors will play their second game on tour on Thursday to

mark the 95th birthday of the anti-apartheid icon.