Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says his team will continue to crack the whip on their Caf Champions League Group C opponents as they look to consolidate their spot at the top of the group.
The Brazilians lead their group with seven points out of nine, thanks to wins over Petro de Luanda of Angola and USM Alger of Algeria, while they earned an invaluable point away to rivals and Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca.
And with the second round of the Champions League group matches scheduled for this weekend, Sundowns will not be leaving any stone unturned when they welcome USM Alger to Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s a big one, and an important one. One big thing is that we have to win here against the Algerians because if we win, we are almost eliminating them,” Mosimane said.
“If we win, we are paving the way for Wydad also, but you’ve got to look after yourself. So, let it be a two-horse race. Why do you want to have a third party? And we know that with Wydad at home against the Angolans, they’ll never leave that game.”
The logic behind Mosimane wanting to bag points at home is knowing that if they finish top of Group C they will be seeded for the quarter-finals and will be drawn against a team that finishes second in their group.
“They (Wydad) know that they don’t want to come here, in the last match, looking for points. By then, we would be fighting for the top of the log finish to avoid the other big boys (in the knockout stages),” Mosimane said.
While Sundowns’ continental campaign has a cruise, they are yet to hit full steam in the defence of their PSL title. Sundowns are second on the league standings with 32 points after 16 matches, following nine wins, five draws and two losses.
On Tuesday, they were presented with an opportunity to earn a famous victory over fellow title challengers Wits, whom they played at Loftus, but to log leaders Kaizer Chiefs’ advantage, the two teams cancelled each other out in a goalless draw.
Sure, Sundowns had the upper hand, and squandered the better of the chances, but Abongile Tom’s officiating on the night left a bitter taste in Mosimane’s mouth.
“It was a very difficult game for Tom, the referee, who was the Referee of the Year last season,” Mosimane said. “To be at that level, you need consistency, but I could see with the way the match started that it needed a Victor Hlungwani or Victor Gomes. He (Tom) still has a long way to go and he’s not going to be my Referee of the Year.”
“Jingles” was left bemused by Tom’s decision to allow Wits captain Thulani Hlatswayo to finish the match despite numerous crunching tackles, which deserved either a second caution or straight red card.
Much to Mosimane’s disbelief is that Tom didn’t have the nerve to make a big call after the Clever Boys were already a man down, after Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi received his marching orders early in the second half.
“I think sometimes Ace Ncobo always says it’s not that referees are bad they just chicken out,” Mosimane said. “They say two red cards in this match I will be the centre of attention and I will be trending so let me move away because it’s enough.”