JOHANNESBURG – “These are difficult times,” coach Pitso Mosimane said after Mamelodi Sundowns’ 28-match unbeaten run in the league was ended by AmaZulu at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday night.
The 2-0 loss came hours after Toni Silva’s scathing open letter to Mosimane was published. The former Downs forward, who failed to make the cut at Chloorkop, labelled Mosimane arrogant and slammed him for what he deemed favouritism in selecting the starting XI.
Three days before Silva’s letter and the defeat to Usuthu, Sundowns were eliminated in the first round of the Nedbank Cup by Chippa United, meaning the Absa Premiership is the only domestic trophy the Brazilians can win this season.
“We knew the battle (before the start of the season),” Mosimane said. “When you go into the battle ground and you don’t have room for casualties and soldiers who aren’t going to come back, then you aren’t going for war because you have other people fighting against you.
You’ve got to accept it and move on. You have to work on the players’ minds because what you don’t want is to lose the confidence of the players.
“These are difficult times. This is when you have to lift the players’ confidence. This is when the whole team comes together, and when I am talking about the whole team I am not only talking about the players and the technical team. I am talking about everybody, the whole team - management, the board and supporters.
One team, because these are difficult times. When it’s difficult times, you need all the support. We need to support the players, and we also need the support because we are human beings. I also need support.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Tshwane giants, who are three points behind leaders Bidvest Wits with two games in hand. What is challenging is their hectic schedule and a growing injury list.
Sundowns have to put those challenges aside and focus on getting three points from Asec Mimosas, who they host at Lucas Moripe Stadium tomorrow (9pm) in the third game of their CAF Champions League group stage campaign. All four teams in Group A, along with Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Nigeria’s Lobi Stars, sit on three points after two matches.
Mosimane was confident after the draw that the Brazilians would get six points from the Ivorians.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” he said. “You’ve got to break the reinforced defence. We’ve got to be strong and be ready to penetrate them, guard against counter-attacks and set-pieces. We don’t look good now on corner kicks and you know the West Africans are big boys.
We’ve got to really work to get the better of them. But most of the work is mental more than physical.
“We can’t say that the team isn’t fit. The team needs a rest more than fitness. We also have to be careful on going too hard. You could see some of our players are not fresh. It’s fatigue.
But we aren’t complaining.”