Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says matches against Kaizer Chiefs are awkward, while his counterpart Steve Komphela, ever the diplomat, argues it’s all about managing your opponents.
The two faced off on Wednesday in a joint press conference to build up to their PSL clash on Saturday at FNB Stadium, a venue where Mosimane has not been able to walk away victorious in three seasons.
Mosimane had his reasons for insisting that games against Amakhosi often have a twist.
“I like to use the word 'awkward' when I describe matches against Chiefs,” said the coach of the table-topping Brazilians.
“They are just different. The last time, (referee Christopher) Harrison decided to do what he did (give Tiyani Mabunda a red card in their league clash in October).
"When we played in Durban someone gave two penalties.
"The last time we played at Loftus, Percy (Tau) was taken down by Willard Katsande and Daniel Cardoso in the box but the referee didn’t give it. The other game they scored with a hand.
"I mean, really, there are stories around this game whichever way you look at it. The last game we played with nine men, but the red card was legitimate.”
Komphela, probably because he has enjoyed getting the better of Mosimane and was applauded for a perfectly executed game plan in Chiefs win over the Brazilians three months ago, did not have words as strong as his opposite number.
“You need to recognise the opponents’ strength and play to your strengths,” Komphela said.
“We can’t compromise on ours. In my opinion, the match on Saturday is in two ways: Chiefs are going to be up against a very effective team offensively, one that has got a good striking force, and Sundowns are going to be up against a very good defensive team from Chiefs.
"Our offensive players must make sure they dominate their attack and our defenders must make it a point to dominate the defence, while acknowledging that Sundowns are very strong going forward.”
This fixture might also have some bearing on the championship in the long run, although both Mosimane and Komphela tried to play it down.
However, a win for the Brazilians could help them build an unassailable lead that will stretch to eight points over the Soweto giants, while victory for Amakhosi will help them reduce the gap to Sundowns to just two points.
“But why are we talking about Chiefs as a concern for the title for us? We have Cape Town City and Free State Stars next to us as well,” Mosimane said.
“I don’t think the game determines the title. Let us look at other teams. If Free State Stars won at the weekend and the other teams managed to win also, I think Chiefs would have dropped to seventh before they beat Baroka.
"We lost to Pirates, but then they played a draw against Polokwane City and dropped down. We are also not consistent; in fact, no team is.”