Sundowns conceded a late goal in that 2-2 draw against the Bakgaga outfit, a result which saw fellow title contenders, Bidvest Wits, maintain their place at the helm of the PSL standings with a two-point lead, though they suffered a 3-1 hammering against Free State Stars the same night in Bethlehem.
Pitso Mosimane, however, argues that they lost the league title race long before that meeting against relegation threatened Baroka, adding that the four matches they had to play in a short period of eight days, took its toll on his players.
“Sure we are bit disappointed because we wanted to go until the last day of the season,” Mosimane said. “But that’s football for you. You’ll have to accept it. I think I came second three or four times during my stint at SuperSport United and we couldn’t win it. And it’s okay, really. Only one team can win it. Credit must go to Wits because they really fought for it.
“We played four games in a space of eight days, that’s where I believe we lost the title,” Mosimane added. “Remember when we played against Chippa United Wednesday? Then against Cape Town City, the most well rested team in the league this season afterwards, that’s where we lost it. We got two points out of a possible 15. But then again you’ve got to understand why,” Mosimane added. “We had about six games in hand the time we were in Japan (for the Fifa Club World Cup). We had to come back and fight for it.”
Unfortunately Sundowns couldn’t.
The reigning African Coach of the Year also lamented about the pressure of having had to challenge for honours in all competitions with the same squad, adding that he might even consider playing his reserve side in knockout competitions such as the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup, should they go through the same schedule in the coming season.
“Perhaps we should set all of our focus on the league title and the Caf Champions league in the new season, and forget about domestic cup competitions,” Mosimane said. “We might even consider playing our MDC side in these domestic cup competitions (in order to deal with the pressure). What can you do?”
Sundowns will play AS Vita next Wednesday away in their second Caf Champions League group stage clash, before they lock horns with Highlands Park in their final league match. Mosimane said it was crucial that they produced a win in Kinshasa, as that result would see them in a good fighting position of surviving their group.
“It’s another difficult one,” Mosimane said. “We play them on Wednesday, have to fly back the following day and have a day’s rest before we play Highlands on a Saturday. We’ll have to try and make sure that we don’t lose in Kinshasa because AS Vita are now bottom of the mini group table.
"We’ll have to play smart and try to keep them down there, and try to win again here at home (when they host Esperance). It’s okay now because the league title is already gone. We’ll have to see what we are going to do in our match against Highlands, possibly keep the first team players away from that match, as we now have the Caf Champions League to focus on.”