Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane admits he’s been taking a leaf out of serial championship-winning coach Gavin Hunt’s book, saying that the league title is not won midway through the season.
We may only be six months into the 2019/2020 Premiership season, but some members of the football fraternity were already backing a certain club from Soweto to be the one that will sip the champagne and dance to the We Are The Champions theme song come May 2020.
Kaizer Chiefs dominated the first half of the season, bagging 34 points in only 13 matches - thanks to 11 wins, one draw and one loss - somewhat leaving their supporters in premature hope that they would end the season with the championship in the middle this season.
However, Amakhosi ended 2019 and started 2020 on a sour note. They drew away to bogey side Maritzburg United on the last day of the year, before losing to SuperSport United in the first game of the year.
Those recent disappointments have allowed fellow pace-setters to close the gap at the top.
Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who were at some point 13 points behind, are just four points behind Amakhosi.
Mosimane, who has won the last two editions of the Premiership, says that he was not shaken by being on the back foot, and is not getting carried away by being close to the top - especially after a renowned coach like Hunt had advocated the time to win the league.
“May is too far. There’s still a lot of games to play, we still have (Bidvest) Wits, (Orlando) Pirates, (Kaizer) Chiefs, SuperSport (United).I mean it’s far from us, and the same for everybody,” he said.
“We need to keep calm. And Gavin Hunt also said that May is too far. And the guy has won the league more than me (note: Mosimane and Hunt have four league titles each), so he knows how to win the league. Those are the people who I have to read and listen to.”
There may be mutual respect between Mosimane and Hunt, but expect emotions to rocket on the field and touchline, when the serial winning coaches clash for maximum points at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Hatfield, tonight (7.30pm).
Both Sundowns and Wits, who are second and fourth respectively, head into this encounter after important wins after defeating AmaZulu and Stellenbosch in the opening round of matches this year. The Brazilians will wear the favourite’s cap due to home advantage, but Mosimane knows only too well they can’t take the Clever Boys for granted, especially after the latter came from behind to snatch a point during the 1-1 draw at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban early last month.
“We have a big game on Tuesday. We don’t have enough rest and we don’t want to play ‘that team’, especially when you come from here with the travelling and all that,” Mosimane said after their 3-0 victory over Usuthu on Saturday.
“It’s the second time that we play them after two-and-a-half days. You remember after the Telkom Knockout final?
“They, Wits, are a strong team. And you can’t talk too much because you have to cross that bridge first. You can’t get too excited, either.”