While other Absa Premiership coaches are fretting over the unissued work permits for their key foreign players, coach of defending league champions Mamelodi Sundowns Pitso Mosimane is not bothered at all.
Why would he be though? With the squad Sundowns has, Mosimane can afford to lend some of the Premiership clubs his players and still have a squad good enough to conquer local football. But that’s what he has been talking about all along – having depth to overcome the many hurdles of a long and demanding league season.
Mosimane is likely to be without Senegalese striker Mame Niang when the league season kicks off this week, but he’s got more than enough fire power to hurt opponents.
“That’s why we have numbers. We make sure that any hurdles that come our way we are ready. Players are going to have to go play for their national teams at some point. We have many national team players at Sundowns. (Elias) Pelembe was with Mozambique and he will be away. I lost (Anthony) Laffor for three months when he played for Liberia. So I needed numbers. That’s why we have enough numbers.
“Also, I have players out with injury. I have (Rodney) Ramagalela out. I have Punch (Masenamela) and Muzi (Mzikayise Mashaba) out. I have Surprise Moriri and Khama Billiat out. So I am lucky I have back-up.
“I think we have prepared well and we have strengthened the team. It is important for us to defend the league. Our team is good enough to win the Premiership again. Mentally we are ready, but you do not just say that without preparing properly. You have to have a plan and a vision. We have to be consistent,” Mosimane said.
But not every Premiership club has the luxury of having a mining billionaire owner as a president who can afford any player. One of those less fortunate clubs is Maritzburg United, who will play Sundowns at Loftus on Friday night with a depleted squad. But knowing Maritzburg coach Steve Komphela, he may have a few aces up his sleeve and Mosimane knows that.
Maritzburg are a closed book, just like Platinum Stars were before they beat Sundowns in the MTN8 quarter-final clash at the weekend.
“I think they (Maritzburg) are the only team that we could not get more than three points from last season. My brother Steve has done well at Maritzburg and I am sure he is going to improve this season. They are a closed book because we have not seen them play. My friend Steve is enjoying this because we have played three matches which have been shown on TV.
“I am sure he will have a few surprises for us. I must be alert. When we play against Maritzburg, there is always a goal in the 90th minute and it’s usually us coming from behind to clinch a draw. Hopefully we do not go the same route. Hopefully we will improve. They have lost a few players, but we need to give them the respect they deserve.”
With a depleted squad and no one really to rely on for goals, Maritzburg could just park the bus and play for a draw, which would be a good result to start with away from home. Mosimane, however, says he has a plan to breach the visitors defence if they apply the defensive tactics.
“We dismantle the bus. We know that people come to us with three central defenders. You know the story. We cannot make excuses. We have to attack and win at home. We have to play no matter what.”