JOHANNESBURG - The master of mind games in South African football, Pitso Mosimane, is at it once again, the Mamelodi Sundowns coach taking a poke at Orlando Pirates - his team's direct rivals in the league championship race.
But the Buccaneers have been smart, refusing to play take Mosimane’s bait.
Instead, Pirates have been playing mind games of their own by dismissing their chances of winning the league, arguing that Sundowns have already won it and thus their focus is to only do better than they did last season and hopefully qualify for the Caf Champions League. Mosimane called Pirates’ bluff after Sundowns stretched their lead at the top to four points.
The Soweto giants will look to cut it to one on Wednesday night by collecting maximum points against SuperSport United who host them at the Mbombela Stadium.
“I am happy that (Pirates’ coach) Micho (Sredojevic) spoke about it (winning the league), finally,” Mosimane said. “I have been waiting for that statement.
"When they played (Bloemfontein) Celtic, he said that the guys were a little bit nervous because they had to win and they knew that they couldn’t draw. There you are. They passed the monkey to us (by winning against Celtic) and we passed the monkey back to them (by beating Baroka).
"The most experienced team will prevail. They say that it’s our title. Musa Nyatama said that. Micho spoke so nicely about me. ‘What a man,’ he described me. He is a good guy. I have known him for a long time. He gave me Denis Onyango 10 years ago. But the monkey is on his back now. Let’s see what they will do. They can’t draw. We can draw.”
So did Mosimane believe Pirates when they said they weren’t after the league?
“But did you believe that? I like the last statement I told you about. Micho indirectly came out. You can always hide it but one slip of the tongue will say a lot. He said it. But I want Pirates in the Champions League," Mosimane added.
"They are a good team. They are a big team. Let them play six games in three days. They are a well-rested team. Let them have this stress and see if they can handle the stress. They’ve had enough time to give us a hard time this year.”
Mosimane continued, “We’ve been saying that we want to win the league. I don’t want to say that I don’t want to win the league and when I don’t win it, it’ll be because I didn’t want it. I want it! If I don’t get it, it’s life. But if you say you don’t want it and don’t get it, you can’t complain when you don’t get it because you didn’t want it.”
Mosimane took the mind games up a notch by revealing that a coach close to him from one of the biggest clubs in South Africa was talking to Themba Zwane with the aim of bringing him on board.
Jingles was quick to announce that it wasn’t Kaizer Chiefs’ coach Steve Komphela. That leaves Pirates whose technical team includes Rhulani Mokwena who was with the Brazilians last season. But the league will not be won by mind games alone. The winner still needs to do the job on the field. Sundowns’ next game is a grudge match against Bidest Wits.
“Wits will never allow us to win. It’s a big one. They have their pride and integrity to play for. They will want to show that they can beat us. Huntie (Wits coach Gavin Hunt) won’t want to lose to us. It’s okay. We might not win. But I think that he will do the same thing with Pirates. It’s okay. It cancels both teams.”