Gaston Sirino scored the only goal as Mamelodi Sundowns beat Bloemfontein Celtic in the first round o the Telkom Knockout on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Having missed most of his team’s Telkom Knockout preparations due to his CAF Pro License course trip to Morocco, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has credited his technical team for their last-16 match win over Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night. Sundowns progressed into the quarter-finals of the tournament courtesy of a solitary strike from talisman Gaston Sirino.

“I need to give credit to my technical team because they are the ones that prepared the team (in my absence). To be honest, I think they are the ones that won the game,” Mosimane said. “It’s good to be surrounded by quality because I always boast that my technical team is the best in Africa. And I always think that ‘local is lekker’ because they are boys from the township and I like my bench because it represents the country.”

Despite losing out of the MTN8 cup competition, and having a slow start in their Absa Premiership title defence, Mosimane reckons that doing well in the Telkom Knockout will serve as productive preparation for CAF Champions League that’s scheduled to commence next month.

“We are playing Champions League very soon, so we’ll be using the Telkom Knockout to prepare for it,” he explained. “In a few weeks’ time, we’ll be back in Champions League, so we need these kinds of games. We are a little bit far in the league (Absa Premiership) but we’ll get there because we have so many new players, so it will take time to gel.”

Having missed out on winning the MTN8, Mosimane is happy that they’ve managed to bag both ‘plastic’ trophies - the Shell Helix Cup and Prince Mangosuthu Legacy Cup recently.

“I told the boys as much as the competition, the Mangosuthu Legacy, was a friendly game they must lift the cup,” he said. “I also told Mosa Lebusa, from Ajax Cape Town, that he must lift the cups because here we lift them. It doesn’t matter what kind of a cup it is. People were criticising us for lifting the Nedbank Ke Yona small cup, but they must understand we had to win the big Nedbank Cup first.”

Mosimane believes that with time, he can turn Phakamani Mahlambi into one of the prolific strikers this country has ever had. “He’s definitely a future prospect for Bafana Bafana,” Mosimane said.

The Star

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