JOHANNESBURG - Asked whether he had any words of support for SuperSport United for the second leg of their Caf Confederation Cup final against TP Mazembe on Saturday night, Pitso Mosimane - in typical fashion - took it a step further.
“This is a great opportunity for South African clubs to dominate the continent, especially if the national team isn’t going to do it,” the Mamelodi Sundowns coach said.
“SuperSport scored a brilliant away goal (they lost 2-1 in Lubumbashi last Sunday) and that is a thorn in the flesh for Mazembe. I think SuperSport will score here.”
That was about as far as the well wishes went. Mosimane then made an argument for the need to see Premier League clubs dictate continental football.
“We are underachieving as clubs,” said the man who led the Brazilians to the 2016 Champions League title. “Why can’t more teams go to the Confederation Cup final? Why can’t we go to the Champions League final?
"Our teams must get there. I hope SuperSport United wins, then they can have more players in Bafana, Sundowns can have also.”
Mosimane said that fixtures between the sides considered to be among the country’s top five - Sundowns, Bidvest Wits, SuperSport, Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates - were characteristic of Champions League clashes, and are sufficient preparation for taking on some of the best clubs in Africa.
“We need Pirates (1995 Champions League winners, 2013 runners-up and 2015 Confederation Cup finalists) back because they have done well in the past. Chiefs must also come up and do a little bit well,” the Downs coach explained.
“The opportunities are there. Let’s go to Africa guys. If we can’t do it with our national team, then let’s do it with the clubs. We have got no excuses as clubs not to do it. With the national team we can talk about this or that maybe the other teams have got players playing for Chelsea, Napoli and we are not yet there, let’s be honest.
"But this means the clubs in Senegal, Egypt and the rest of the continent don’t have the same material we’ve got to fight against us because their best players are overseas. Our best players are here, so let’s win here. No excuses.”
Sundowns made an attempt to give it another go in this year’s Champions League as the title holders, but were knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Wydad Casablanca from Morocco. Mosimane said he was already preparing for next year’s edition by looking for reinforcement.
“I think we have enough material to compete in the local league. No excuses. But this is not to say that we are blowing our own trumpet. This team is good enough to win the league, if they really want to and they pass properly. I am still not happy about that, they are erratic,” the coach said, going off topic yet again and this time focusing on Bafana’s recent failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“And this is the cream of the national team. These are the same chances we see them miss when playing for Bafana. I listen to the experts and pundits talking about us having facilities or blaming the coach that he doesn’t pick the right players. I am not saying he did or didn’t, but the chances were there. The other guys, the Sadio Manes, one chance they score. Actually, half a chance. We need the right technique. In SA, when a player can dribble they say he has the right technique. It’s not about that.”
Here’s hoping SuperSport are clinical, not erratic, against Mazembe on Saturday night.