JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane credits Mamelodi Sundowns’ continuous participation in the Caf Champions League for breaking the stranglehold Cape Town City had over them.
The Citizens used to trouble the Brazilians, beating them three times in a row since the club’s inception last season. But Sundowns have bucked the trend to beat City in their previous two meetings - the last of those wins propelled the Brazilians to the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup, where they will face Maritzburg United.
“Our people still have to understand continental football,” Mosimane said. “It’s totally different. The opponents don’t look too good on the ball or are as exciting as (Surprise) Ralani or (Ayanda) Patosi. They just move slowly and manage the game.You will see when we play Wydad (Casablanca). They don’t care about many things. They are just organised, get a draw away and they are happy.
The Champions League is a totally different game. Back home we love exciting football, frills and all of that. It’s good for TV but sometimes you just have to manage the game, score the goals and take the win. We won this match because of our experience.”
The Brazilians will fly the country’s flag in the group stage of the Champions League for a third successive year. While that competition is taxing physically, mentally and financially , Mosimane argues what they have learned in the continent can’t be quantified in monetary value.
“Wits have been trying to get to the group stage of the Champions League,” Mosimane said. “You look at their opponents and ask yourself but how did they lose? It’s the same with Cape Town City. You make one mistake in the continent and they punish you. And then you say, we had them and we were better. You must be able to manage the game and score.
(Hlompho) Kekana, Vila (Sibusiso Vilakazi), Percy (Tau) and Khama (Billiat) will always score for us. So we know one of the four will score. I knew that Cape Town City are a nice and exciting team; that it was going to be a party. So we slowed things down a little bit. We passed in small areas and then broke out with speed. That’s the only way you can play against City. Before we used to go toe-to-toe with them and they used to beat us.
We changed the strategy and we got the results. Benni (McCarthy) is a good coach who loves to show that they can play enterprising football. We don’t have to do that. We’ve gone past the days of shoe-shine and piano. We are not here to prove that we can play. We know we can play.”
Sundowns shift their focus back to the league with a clash against Chippa United tomorrow at Loftus Versfeld. Orlando Pirates take on Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium the same day. The Brazilians are one point ahead of the Buccaneers and also have a game in hand.
“Now it’s back to fire now,” Mosimane said. “It’s tough. We have a game in hand but games in hand don’t mean anything. Chippa always gives us problems. But sometimes history can change. Like the history Cape Town City had over us (of beating us three times in a row), now it has changed (we have beaten them twice in our last two matches).”