Pirates to test Sundowns depth

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iol spt feb25 Pitso

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On the eve of possibly the greatest night of his coaching career, Pitso Mosimane could not help but remember where it all started for him. Photo: Duif du Toit

With a number of key players out of the titanic clash, coach Pitso Mosimane will have to dig deep to ensure that Mamelodi Sundowns triumph over Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld tonight.

Mosimane will have to make do without the services of Katlego Mashego, Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat. The trio have played a pivotal role in ensuring the the Brazilians perform outstandingly.

Mashego and Malajila are sidelined by injuries while Billiat is suspended. They account for 50 percent of the goals scored by Sundowns so far this season. Mashego has scored seven, Malajila found the net five times and Billiat rattled the net four times. Mosimane says it won't be easy without the trio.

“We have been affected in key and strategic positions. I have to push wingers to play as strikers. I have to push Cheeseboy (Lebohang Mokoena) up as a striker and see what happens. Maybe Cheeseboy or Domingues (Elias Pelembe). We will put Laffor to play striker. We still have Rodney (Ramagalela) and Surprise (Moriri),” said Mosimane.”It is very sad. But it's football. I think that has happened to Pirates also. The injuries have cost them a place – proper position on the log. Pirates and Sundowns have to understand the roll of dice is not falling for us.”

The former Bafana Bafana coach says Sundowns, who are second on the Absa Premiership table, will set up their attack this time around compared to the last time when they beat Pirates courtesy of Hlompho Kekana's wonder strike.

“You won't see a lot of changes in the team. The game plan will be the same. We are playing at home. We will try and attack more than we did at Orlando Stadium. We will respect Pirates. They are a big team. Last time they came to Loftus, they won against Sundowns. We have to try to maintain our integrity because it ispainful to lose at home,” said the former SuperSport United coach.

Though Sundowns, who have 34 points trail log leader Kaizer Chiefs by nine points, they are still two games behind Chiefs. This is set to give them hope as far as their catch up plan is concerned. However Mosimane says a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

“We are not chasing Chiefs. We are chasing the league. We have to do what we have to do. Games in hand are not games won. What's a game in hand when you still have to play Pirates and Wits. Those games don't work. You might win against Pirates and draw against Maritzburg United at Loftus. There's no formula. You have to keep going,” said Mosimane.

A few days ago, Mosimane did the unusual by praising referee Victor Gomes, who awarded five penalties in the clash against Ajax Cape Town. However Mosimane is now singing a different tune. This time he is disgruntled at the performance of referee Lwandile Mfiki, who officiated their Nedbank Cup clash against Ajax.

“I will talk for my team. We are accountable as coaches every week. Are referees accountable? He (Mfiki) went to Khama after the game and he apologised. He said I made a mistake, I shouldn't have given you a yellow card. What is that? If I make mistake, I lose the match. three points are gone. What about him? He keeps going. Mfiki has not been good lately. Let's be honest but he is forever there in the middle of the park, failing fitness (tests) and all those things. I praised Gomes because he is at the top of his game. When somebody is not doing well, I have to do the opposite, but you risk facing a DC,” vented Mosimane. Despite things going bad, Mosimane was awarded Coach of the Quarter for Q1 and with it he also received a R15 000 cheque. - Pretoria News


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