Downs out to make title race interesting

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Pitso Mosimane feels the Premiership would not make for viewing pleasure if Kaizer Chiefs were to win the title unchallenged. Picture: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Pitso Mosimane feels the Premiership would not make for viewing pleasure if Kaizer Chiefs were to win the title unchallenged, so he and his Mamelodi Sundowns players have made it their mission to ensure the race to the crown is “exciting”.

He’s right. There’d be no fun in it if anyone – be it Chiefs or Sundowns – were to lift the crown with a few matches still to play. It has to go to the wire.

Just look at how German fans have nothing to look forward to after Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title with seven matches still to play. It’s great for the Bayern fans to win it in record time, but for everyone else it’s not very interesting now is it?

Here in South Africa, it’s edge of the seat stuff. There’s still a lot to play for, and it looks as though it will be decided on the final day after Sundowns’ 2-1 win over Tshwane rivals University of Pretoria at Loftus on Sunday.

“I think we need to keep the league exciting. If we drop the ball now then it’s not nice, hey. So we want to keep the excitement by winning our games.”

But Mosimane is not ready to label his side favourites for the title despite a fifth straight win, which put them level on points with leaders Amakhosi, though with an inferior goal difference to that of the Naturena club.

“The league right now is in Chiefs’ hands. Obviously we are watching what’s happening with them, but it’s not in our hands,” said Mosimane, whose team’s recent displays have dispelled any notion that they may crack under pressure.

Sundowns, who have played two more games than Chiefs, are grinding out the results at the moment, which is what title winning sides do. They outplayed Platinum Stars last week at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, a big result at a venue where only Orlando Pirates had prevailed prior to Sundowns’ visit.

A performance similar to that one in the title decider against Chiefs this Saturday could end Amakhosi’s unbeaten run this season at FNB Stadium and put Sundowns in an even better position to lift the title.

Mosimane said he would apply the same tactics he used in the 3-1 victory over Stars last week.

“We are getting the DNA of winning now. We will apply the same tactics we applied against Platinum Stars away from home and in the game against Free State Stars away from home. We won’t sit back (against Chiefs) What’s the point? It’s going to be an exciting game.”

Mosimane has done very well to keep a star-studded squad, with many egos, happy throughout the season. Anthony Laffor is thriving as a starter now, Surprise Moriri is as inspiring as he was when Sundowns last won the title in 2006/2007 and Lebohang Mokoena has just been phenomenal since returning from his miserable spell on the sidelines with a hip injury.

Teko Modise is enjoying his role as a deep lying playmaker, linking defence and attack.

Players that were written off at the start of the campaign are getting a run now and they are all working towards one goal of restoring the glory days at Sundowns.

“We are a happy family at this point in time. We are enjoying the pressure and our players feel like they can’t lose. They fight, they work hard and the spirit is good. They come to me and show me how they are improving during match analysis,” said Mosimane.

Against AmaTuks on Sunday, Sundowns had to dig deep to take the points. Laffor gave the hosts the lead just before the break with a deft header, but Atusaye Nyondo cancelled out the Liberian’s goal just after the hour.

Mokoena then sealed the three points for Downs two minutes later with a header from Bongani Zungu’s cross.

“These were hard-earned points. We were sweating. Of all the games we have played here, this was the most difficult. We had to play against three central defenders. But We survived. We were supposed to win today, and we won,” said Mosimane at the time. - The Star


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