JOHANNESBURG - Pitso Mosimane went on a serious charm offensive in Conakry on Monday, leading to one Guinean journalist asking the Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach why he was so complimentary of Horoya.
Mosimane, at his methodological best, named the entire Horoya starting XI in response to how much he knows about the Guinean champions ahead of their Caf Champions League clash at the Stade du 28 Septembre on Tuesday night.
Jingles was very complimentary of Horoya, praising them for the beautiful football they play and how they don’t hoof the ball forward aimlessly. A Guinean journalist at the pre-match press conference questioned Mosimane’s complimentary nature, asking him if this is a ploy to lull Horoya into a false sense of security.
“We don’t come here with an ego,” Mosimane said. “We come here with respect. We respect Horoya very much. We know what kind of a team we are playing against.
"We know how they play when they are playing at home. We will try and win, if we don’t win we shouldn’t lose. My words aren’t meant to do anything to Horoya. I have to give respect. When I enter your country, I must respect you.”
Horoya started the group stage of the Champions League better than Sundowns, picking up three points in their first match against AS Togo-Port. The Brazilians began their campaign with a 1-1 draw against the reigning African champions Wydad Casablanca.
The Moroccan side then went and collected maximum points against AS Togo-Port to sit at the top of Group C. Sundowns need a win on Tuesday night to catch up with Casablanca. The Brazilians have an edge over Horoya not only because they boast a stronger team on paper but they also have a bigger pedigree in the continent.
“Football isn’t played on paper,” Mosimane said. “Football is football. You saw that the team from Uganda, KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) beat Al-Ahly 2-0. You know Al-Ahly and how many Champions Leagues have they won.
"If you come with the mind-set that my team is better on paper (you will be shocked). What’s important is what happens on the day. We know that Horoya is going to be at their best.”
Mosimane continued: “They believe that they can beat us. We have to be cautious and give them respect. It’s a different story when you come to South Africa. I see that Horoya likes to play from the back. But the pitch doesn’t help them from playing the beautiful football that they can play.
"The grass isn’t conducive for beautiful football. It’s a disadvantage to Horoya. If they fix the pitch, then we can see beautiful football from Horoya and our team.”
Sundowns’ biggest challenge will be their mental state for this match which comes just after they won the Absa Premiership and played Barcelona in an international friendly that was beamed across the globe.
The players will also have one eye on the break that they’ll get after this match to finally end a long season that started on July 1 last year while most of their South African counterparts were still on a break.
“I hope that my team will be motivated because before coming here we won the league. There were some celebrations. And then we played the biggest team in the world, Barcelona with (Andres) Iniesta, (Lionel) Messi and (Ivan) Rakitic on the field.
"I hope that the team is mentally okay. The motivation is the Champions League. We have to catch up with Wydad.”