Pitso Mosimane reacts during Saturday's defeat. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
PRETORIA- Pitso Mosimane sat at the Mamelodi Sundowns versus Golden Arrows’ post-match press conference with his chin cupped in his hand on Saturday. He looked dejected.

Sundowns had just bowed out of the Nedbank Cup following a 1-0 defeat, suffered at the hands of Abafana Bes’thende in the last 16 of the competition.

It took only one counter-attacking move to break down a Sundowns defence, who previously had looked rock solid.

Sibiya Nduduzo’s solo run from just over the halfway line, was enough to give his coach, Clinton Larsen, the result he was looking for.

“We knew that we were going to have our backs against the wall in this encounter,” Larsen said after the match. “Sundowns dominate every team they played against and we knew that it was not going to be any different with us.

“We had big breaks to score in the first half as well, and had it not been for that slight touch that (Motjeka) Madisha made on the far side, that cross would have resulted in our first goal. We knew that we would score on the break, because we’ve got enough pace to do just that against any PSL side.

“Coach Pitso said it before that this time was more about producing smash-and-grab performances in the league race, and that statement also applies when it comes to Cup competitions. We defended with our lives. That’s all that matters. We are happy to have gone through.”

On the other end, Mosimane blamed his side’s lack of wins in their last five games, in all competitions, on a congested fixture list.

In total, Mosimane said that his side had played more than 30 extra matches, arguing that a combination of the 12 matches they played in last year’s Caf Champions League, the four matches they played in the MTN8, and the two Club World Cup matches, would mean that his side hasn’t had a break.

“I don’t like making excuses,” said Mosimane, who forgot to add their encounter against TP Mazembe in the Caf Super Cup to that long list of matches they’ve played.

“For me, it’s like opening a can of worms for yourself. However, I believe certain things happen for a reason.

“We played six in our group stage matches (in last year’s) Champions League. We played another six leading up to us winning the Caf title as well.

“We played four matches in our MTN8 campaign where we faced Wits in the final. Played two matches in our Club World Cup, where the travelling took its toll on our players as well.

“We also have too many internationals in this team and that also has its toll. But that’s just the way it is. We are an ambitious side.

“We always try (to push) for more. And unfortunately the only people who suffer ... it’s not me or the fans, but the players themselves.

“I foresee our league race starting early next season.

“And the reason why I say that, it’s because there’s no Africa Cup of Nations taking place next year. And that means there won’t be any rest for us. This is not good for the wellbeing of our players, but that’s life. You can’t play football for two years and have a three week break afterwards.”