Pitso Mosimane, coach of Sundowns thanks fans during the 2018/19 CAF Champions League match against Wydad Casablanca at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Pitso Mosimane cut a surprisingly jovial figure at Lucas Moripe Stadium after witnessing his team get knocked out in the semifinal of the CAF Champions League by their rival Wydad Casablanca.

Sundowns crashed out in the last four due to their failure to score at home for the first time in this season’s Champions League. The Brazilians needed a 1-0 win to advance to their second final in three years. But they struggled to break down a resolute Wydad defence. The Moroccans won the tie 2-1 on aggregate to set up an all-North African affair in the Champions League final for a second year in a row - facing the reigning African champions, Esperance de Tunis.

“I am happy that this team tried, when you go out in the semi-finals of the Champions League - 2-1 on aggregate (it’s not a reason to be disappointed),” Mosimane said. “It will come right. We will get it right. I am not disappointed with the team. I am just disappointed with the result. You know me. I want to win. I believe that we had an opportunity to get to the final. We didn’t start very well. In the first 15 minutes, I think that a lot of anxiety was building into the team. The fluidity that you always know we get in the first 25 minutes wasn’t there.”

Mosimane continued: “We just couldn’t take it up. We played in patches. I am disappointed with the result but I am happy that South Africa supported us. It wasn’t just Sundowns’ fans. They came in numbers. I am disappointed that we didn’t go through with such support. It was a bitter pill to swallow. But congratulations to WAC, they defend very well and they fought hard. Some of their players came to me (after the match). We are one family with these people. We know each other so well, it’s not even funny. The president of WAC took me to their dressing room just to congratulate them. It’s football. You have to accept. We will try again.”

Mosimane’s optimism stems from the fact that he initially said that he wasn’t eyeing winning the Champions League this season. Mosimane argued that his team, which he described as a work in progress, was still gelling and needed time to be a force in the continent. He just wanted to see how far they could go among the best in the continent. The fact that they could reach the last four inspires him for what lies ahead.

“I know that the team we have needs some time and needs some experience,” Mosimane said. “This it is a team in construction. I will say that when we win and when we lose. I have always told you that some of the signings didn’t come out right. We tried to re-enforce. After we lost Percy (Tau) and Khama (Billiat), we tried our best. We signed Ali Meza, Toni Silva, (Jeremy) Brockie, Aubrey Ngoma and them, to try and close the gap. But the reality is that the gap wasn’t closed. When you lose those strikers, I don’t want to talk about the generation of Keagan (Dolly), (Bongani) Zungu and them - this is beyond that. When you lose those two players, it’s a bit difficult to maintain.”

Cape Argus

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