JOHANNESBURG – You're going to see a different Pitso Mosimane on Wednesday in his biggest tactical test as Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach in their international friendly against the mighty Barcelona at the FNB Stadium (kick-off 6pm).
Instead of the obsessive control-freak who wants everything to go his team's way, one who passionately gesticulates at every 'injustice' directed against his team, it will be an uncharacteristically calm and relaxed Mosimane guiding the Brazilians. The fact he faces the mammoth task of outsmarting the Catalan giants who have brushed aside every opponent they have faced in La Liga notwithstanding.
Of course, calm and relaxed aren’t words you would associate with Jingles in any contest, whether it’s just a friendly game of cards or, say, a duel against one of the best footballing institutions in the world.
“The Barca game is for the guys to get experience, to see how far we are and what the difference is between us and Barca,” Mosimane said. “It is about seeing how our tactics are in relation to Barca.”
“Of course we aren’t going to stop Barca from playing. They score a goal every 13-14 minutes. I am talking against Real Madrid, not Mamelodi Sundowns. So then you can’t have stress. You are happy to play them. You say let’s see how long we can last before the first goal comes.”
Mosimane continued, “It’s not about beating Barca. It’s just to see our organisation, the way we defend and attack. We want to see how far we are in that regard because we have our own specimen.”
“We play our own way. Even if we were to take off the yellow jersey and wear a black jersey, you would still say that this team plays like Sundowns. We’ve got our own way of playing and we have mastered that. We don’t play with hope and when we sign players. We sign players who fit in the structure.”
“The Barca match is an opportunity to see the difference between the Rand and the Euro. It’s just an opportunity to have fun and see that if we play the Sundowns way, can Barca stop Sundowns?”
The Spanish giants will bring their star players including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho even though this match is just before the end of their season and on the eve of the World Cup.
Sundowns missed out on an taking on Real Madrid two years ago in the Fifa Club World Cup by failing to win a single game in Japan. They learnt a harsh lesson on the gap between them and the best in the world in a tournament that featured the six club champions from each continent and the host country's champions.
This friendly against Barcelona is another opportunity for Sundowns to test themselves against the world’s best.
“This match is not about who will win,” Mosimane said. “I think we know who'll win. We expect Barca to win, not to say we aren’t confident but the reality has to be there. If we win, it’s unbelievable.”
“I must be honest with you, I am so excited about the game. I am so happy to download their games, see how they play and show the players. I want to see their faces, how they are going to react when I show them that (Andres) Iniesta does this.”
“Show them the tiki-taka. I don’t know what we call our game but I know we will exchange a few passes and they will also have to look for the ball. That I know. Guaranteed!”
“But winning is another story.”