JOHANNESBURG - Pitso Mosimane is one point away from fulfilling his prophecy, but because of his competitive nature that will not be enough for the Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach now that the Brazilians have the upper hand.
Mosimane, in a matter-of-fact tone, boldly predicted that his team would not lose to Asec Mimosas in the group stage of the CAF Champions League.
“They’re a tricky team to play away,” Mosimane said immediately after the Ivorians, Wydad Casablanca and Lobi Stars were pitted with Sundowns in Group A of the Champions League in Cairo.
“They’re technical and physical. Even though they’re difficult away, you’ve got to win at home. In my opinion, we can get four points out of Asec.”
Sundowns have fulfilled the first part of that prediction. The Brazilians beat Asec 3-1 at Loftus Versfeld to sit at the summit of Group A, tied on six points with Moroccan giants Wydad.
The Brazilians now have to complete the mission in Abidjan next week. A point will fulfil Mosimane’s prophecy, but three points will move the Tshwane side a step closer to the quarter-finals.
“Asec are going to be a difficult team away,” Mosimane said after the win at Loftus. “We respect them very much. They have a star on top of their badge (for the Champions League title they won in 1998).
“In Abidjan it’s not going to be easy. I hope that we don’t miss a lot there. I know that we will get one or two chances, I don’t know if we will take them though.”
The Brazilians missed a lot of chances in the home leg against the Ivorians. The 3-1 scoreline flattered both teams. It could have been very embarrassing for Asec who faced a barrage from Sundowns’ attack.
But the contest was tighter than the 3-1 scoreline suggested, and Sundowns waited until late in the match to put distance between them and Asec, such was their wasteful nature in front of goal. Mosimane will be hoping that Emiliano Tade solves those problems in the Brazilians’ third trip to West Africa in this campaign.
“In the West African teams that we have played against, we faced Lobi Stars (from Nigeria) and the team from Equatorial Guinea (Leones Vegetarianos), but Asec is the one team that looks good,” Mosimane said.
“They have individual qualities on the ball and they’ve got a good technique. It’s the Ivorians!”
The Ivorians will be tough to crack in their own backyard on an artificial pitch. Asec have yet to concede a goal at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in this season’s Champions League. Lobi Stars, Stade Malien and AS Mangasport all tried and failed to score there.
The Brazilians will be looking to buck the trend now that they can almost see a place in the quarter-finals.
But before that trip to Abidjan, Sundowns have domestic league commitments. The Brazilians hosts Black Leopards in the Absa Premiership on Wednesday in their catch-up programme.
Sundowns are six points behind log-leaders Bidvest Wits with three games in hand.
They failed to cut that lead against AmaZulu, losing for the first time in the league this season having gone 28 games unbeaten in the premiership since last season.
Mosimane called for his team to react positively from the loss to Usuthu and elimination in the first round from the Nedbank Cup. They bounced back emphatically with the win over Asec.
They now have to carry the same spirit in the league whose title they’re working hard to retain.