JOHANNESBURG – The Pitso Mosimane who claimed not to be inspired by this season’s Absa Premiership is obsessed with the CAF Champions League which is why he will do everything in his power to take Mamelodi Sundowns to the final.
The Brazilians passed their first test in what will be a season-defining week. The first test was more mental, having to travel to Thohoyandou to take on Black Leopards immediately after arriving from Rabat, where they had lost 2-1 to Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the Champions League’s semi-finals.
Sundowns bounced back from that defeat to beat Lidoda Duvha by the same scoreline to set up an entertaining finish to the league race between them and Orlando Pirates who are after the championship.
But that’s not the only trophy Sundowns are after. There’s also the Champions League, the trophy that Mosimane is obsessed with winning. That obsession led to him leading Sundowns to glory in 2016.
But instead of that victory quenching his appetite to be an African champion, it made him hungrier as the Brazilians’ coach now wants to give the club two Champions Leagues titles along with his desire to take Sundowns to 10 league titles.
“We are fighting man,” Mosimane said. “We are battling there. It’s very difficult to go to Rabat, you saw what happened there. It’s very difficult to go to Egypt, you saw how difficult it is there.
“We are hanging in there. We believe Sundowns will score on Saturday. The goal is going to come and maybe we will hang in there and get to the final. You’ll never know.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult. The goal is always there in Atteridgeville, but Wydad is a team capable of scoring.
“That’s my only issue. I hope we keep them quiet.”
The Brazilians will be confident when they enter the field just before 3pm tomorrow to take on the Moroccan giants.
The away goal they scored in Rabat gives them an advantage along with the fact that they have a good record against North African teams at home.
The last time Wydad visited Lucas Moripe Stadium, they left defeated and frustrated after the Brazilians not only outplayed them on the pitch but also won the psychological battles that play a big role in conquering the continent.
Sundowns gave as good as they got, going toe-to-toe with Wydad and even ruffling their feathers by engaging in the sportsmanship that North Africans are infamous for - delaying returning the ball into the field when they are leading and constantly looking for free-kicks to break momentum.
North African teams are masters in the psychological warfare, but that afternoon Mosimane taught the master a lesson.
But “Jingles” is cautious of the Moroccan threat. Any goal by Wydad will force Sundowns to double their effort to reach the final.
A clean sheet will be half the battle won as a 1-0 scoreline would take Sundowns to their third final in the tournament’s history. That means Denis Onyango’s contribution will be immense.
“He is the No 1 in Africa,” Mosimane said.
“There’s no dispute. There’s no argument about that. To be No 1 in Africa you’ve got to do it home and internationally for your club and with your national team. He has made some mistakes, but he has also saved us at certain times.
He is important for us, that’s why he is here. We needed him in Rabat and he came to the party.”