JOHANNESBURG - The word crisis set off alarm bells so loud in Pitso Mosimane’s head that he refused to hear the rest of the question after Mamelodi Sundowns’ loss to Polokwane City in August.
The question was: “With what the club has achieved in your tenure, including winning the Caf Champions League last year, how do you handle the perception that comes after every loss that the club is in a crisis?”
“No! No! No! Crisis? Are you serious? Crisis? How many games have I lost? Do you know how many I am still going to lose? Did you see the log? We don’t lose a lot,” Mosimane ranted.
“Have you checked in the last five years how many matches I have lost? In four years, out of 120, I have not lost more than 25 games. I think that I have done well. Crisis? No! Who lost less last year? Who scored more? Who is in the quarter-finals of the Champions League?”
Mosimane’s answer, or questions, reveal that the Brazilians are a victim of their own success. The club has been so dominant in the domestic and continental scene that a loss makes headline news.
The African champions might not be in a crisis, even after losing back-to-back in the league, but they are in an awkward position, which Mosimane hasn’t been in since the club’s impatient fans called for his head two years ago after a 3-2 win over Ajax Cape Town.
Sundowns’ response to that behaviour was swift - they went on a 19-match unbeaten run in all competitions which catapulted them to winning the league and the Champions League the following year.
Mosimane will be looking for a similar response, starting on Sunday in their visit to Sisa Dukashe Stadium to face Chippa United in the last 16 of the Telkom Knockout.
“It’s been a while since we tasted glory, in terms of bringing a trophy to our cabinet,” Sundowns’ midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi said.
“We will try by all means to get this cup for ourselves and the team. Things didn’t go our way in the MTN8 so the Telkom KO is our next opportunity of winning a trophy. It’s an opportunity to dust ourselves (from our previous disappointment).”
Since October last year, the Brazilians have brought two trophies to their cabinet - the Champions League and the Caf Super Cup.
Only SuperSport United have matched that number, winning the Nedbank Cup in May and the MTN8 this month. But Sundowns are still under pressure. Their fans wanted to throw objects onto the Loftus Versfeld pitch after the loss to Kaizer Chiefs.
Mosimane promptly acted and they stopped. But they didn’t want to acknowledge their players following the defeat to AmaZulu.
The Brazilians find themselves in this position due to the absence of the ruthless streak they had in the last couple of years.
Sundowns’ biggest arsenal was suffocating their opponents early in a match, so that by the time they find their composure, the game is already over as a contest. But recently they have been leaving room for their opponents to come back, like they did against Platinum Stars and Usuthu.
They managed to hold on against Dikwena but the Durban side punished them. Such an oversight will hurt them against the Chilli Boys, who are high on confidence after they registered their first win under interim coach Teboho Moloi.