JOHANNESBURG - Without getting too far ahead of himself, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who on Tuesday described his side as perennial slow starters to any PSL season, argued that he saw hints of a genuine title contender in his team. This was following their 2-0 win over defending champions Wits.
“It is always nice to talk and get excited because we won and are bubbly,” said Mosimane. “What is good is that our next game is on the road, where we have been brilliant - with a 100 percent record. It’s at home where we have a problem. We are happy with the result and we are happy with the number of chances created. The finishing is still poor. But we got our tactics right on the night, to be honest.”
Sundowns' victory away at the title holders, with the two goals coming courtesy of substitute Khama Billiat, pushed them up to fourth place on the league standings. The two games in hand, however, could give Mosimane’s men an advantage in the title race. But only if they win them, the coach said.
“They don’t work those games in hand,” Mosimane added. “Last year I had three of them, but lost the league. I don’t want to talk about those things, they jinx me. You’ve got to keep going, and try and win. You admire Baroka, Cape Town City and everyone who is at the top. I think Wits will also come up slowly. They are (a) quality team, they beat Baroka twice, and it was easy. But I know we will get it right.”
Mosimane didn’t want to pre-empt that Sundowns could be favourites going into the Christmas break next month, even though they appear a team rejuvenated following two successive wins over rivals Orlando Pirates (before the international break) and Wits on Tuesday night. The Brazilians also seem to have gotten over the disappointment of being knocked out of the Caf Champions League.
“I know my team, every year we never take the lead. We are slow starters. It is still very early days, and we have Chippa United this weekend, a tricky team. They beat us in the Telkom Knockout, so we have to respect them,” Mosimane cautioned.
“When we are at the top, we can talk about how we can stay there. We know how to win our away games, because the guys want to play away from home. And we rely on speed - Percy Tau, Anthony Laffor and Khama. They are all quick.”
Gavin Hunt wasn’t as optimistic as his counterpart, but the Clever Boys coach will still not throw in the towel on retaining the championship. It will be a tough ask, however, considering Wits have already lost six of their 10 league matches this season.
“I haven’t really thought about our title defence. I can’t worry too much about that right now. We need to get out of this first,” said Hunt.
“I thought we deserved more than we got against Sundowns, but made the same mistake twice to hand them the two goals. There’s nothing much you can do or say, that’s football. We know that with the right shape and balance we will get better. But we just haven’t been.”