JOHANNESBURG - Pitso Mosimane was a contented man after Mamelodi Sundowns held Esperance to a goalless draw in their CAF Champions League Group C match in Tunis on Wednesday night.While the outcome meant the Brazilians remained three points behind the Tunisian giants and joint second with Ethiopia’s St George, Mosimane was pleased that they are still in the running for the knockout stage with two matches to go.
“It’s a positive result,” he said. “We are second in the group and two teams go through. So we’re okay.”
Obviously a win would have been most welcome, but in the tough Champions League a point on the road is always good.
“Of course we wish we could have won. And we had one clear chance in the beginning with Percy (Tau) but we didn’t take it. He might have missed a chance but he played very well.
"I think we played tactically very well in what was an organised game between two disciplined teams. We couldn’t be too emotional so we were careful how we played. Even Esperance, they didn’t want to open up and go on the attack and towards the end you could see they were playing for a draw.”
With matches away to St George in nine days’ time as well as a home tie against AS Vita Club thereafter, Mosimane knows that they have to get maximum points in one of those if not both to stay in line to defend their title.
“You’ve got to be clever and see the bigger picture,” he said. “The key is to progress slowly until the six matches are finished. And if you are number one all the better, although even if you are number two it is alright because you’re going through.
“We are going to Addis (Ababa) next and it is going to be difficult. But Esperance are also going to Kinshasa and it is not easy (there).”
Mosimane is clearly expecting the other teams to cancel each other out somehow in the remaining two games while he hopes to lead the holders to successive victories.
Having been held at home by St George, Sundowns will be eager to get the better of the team many had seen as the group’s potential whipping boys in their own backyard.
Win there and they will need to just complete the double on a Vita side they whipped out in Kinshasa and most probably finish top of the group - an outcome that will depend largely on Esperance losing to the Congolese outfit.
Mosimane, though pleased with the point in Tunisia, lamented their defeat by Esperance in Atteridgeville in the first leg encounter.
“The difference is that in the first game we had eight players injured and (Wednesay) we had three of them back. At home we swept and gave them an opportunity to score early. And then we also gave them a penalty. We shouldn’t have lost to them, and tonight we had three players back and it really made a big difference for us.”
He will expect a much better difference when they take on St George on July 1.