JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane made a bold prediction after the Brazilians did what he said they would do against Asec Mimosas.
Jingles predicted his team would collect four points from the Ivorians in the CAF Champions League. They did that with a goalless draw in Abidjan on Tuesday having won the home leg 3-1.
Mosimane, a master of mind games, doesn’t believe that Wydad Casablanca will come out of the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny on March 9. Tipping Asec to beat the Moroccans is vintage Mosimane, psyching Asec by overestimating their quality while rattling 2017 Champions League winners Wydad. The same outfit who, not only dethroned Sundowns of their continental crown, but also knocked them out in the quarterfinals enroute to becoming African champions.
The Moroccans, held goalless by Nigeria’s Lobi Stars, are tied on seven points with Sundowns with two matches remaining.
“The conditions are difficult for anyone who comes here,” Mosimane said in Abidjan. “I don’t think that Wydad will survive here. They’re also technical and they will struggle with the ball bouncing on this pitch. The humidity will also be a factor. It was too hot for us. We survived. I think that Asec will beat Wydad, and they can also win in Lobi Stars.”
Stars, Sundowns’ next opponents in the Champions League, defeated Sundowns in Enugu in the opening round. A win over Stars next month could see Sundowns qualify for the knockout stage, if results in Abidjan in Asec’s clash with Wydad go their way. That would be in line with Mosimane’s wishes of securing a place in the quarterfinals before going to Casablanca.
“Asec beat Lobi Stars here. To be honest with you, this game (against Asec) was more difficult than the match we played in Nigeria against Lobi Stars. We had chances to score, and we took one of those chances. But Asec pushed us against the wall. They pushed us. Asec is a good team,” Mosimane said.
Sundowns played at a pedestrian pace against Asec. They hardly threatened the Asec goals, insisting on playing carpet football on a pitch that didn’t allow it. Despite that, Mosimane had mixed emotions when asked if he was happy with getting only a point away.
“Yes and No. Yes, because we got to seven points,” Mosimane said. “We got a point away from home. But not because we had opportunities. We couldn’t finish the chances we created. We had two chances on the counter, but we made the wrong decision to pass.
I asked the players why we couldn’t properly make use of the opportunity on counter-attacks because Asec was desperate. They complained about the pitch because when you run with the ball at high speed it bounces awkwardly.
I think that the pitch doesn’t help Asec (also) because they are technical, and they pass the ball well. It was very difficult.”