JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has challenged his players to wrap up the league title early so that they are fresh for a gruelling May that will see them possibly compete in three competitions and travel to Guinea.
Mosimane set this challenge right after the Brazilians qualified for the CAF Champions League for a record fifth year in a row by beating Bidvest Wits 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. This victory means that only Orlando Pirates can mathematically finish ahead of the Brazilians. It’ll take some doing for the Buccaneers to achieve that though as Sundowns sit at the summit with their fate in their own hands.
“We have to calm down,” Mosimane said. “I can see that people are happy. But we as coaches need to calm down.
“This thing is not yet done, it’s not yet decided. Our lead can still be cut. Hopefully we can decide it early. It would be nice. Keep calm and put pressure on Orlando Pirates. That’s it, because they put pressure on us. They are breathing down our necks.”
Mosimane’s motivation for the Brazilians to wrap up the league early is so that they can have a free-hit in their last league match against Bloemfontein Celtic.
That match is sandwiched between clashes against reigning African champions Wydad Casablanca at Loftus Versfeld and a trip to Guinea to take on Horoya either on May 15 or 16.
Should Sundowns reach the final of the Nedbank Cup, which Jingles is confident his team will do, they will have a couple of days to return from Conakry, travel to Cape Town and prepare for the final on May 19 against either Kaizer Chiefs or Free State Stars.
“We will leave from Bloemfontein to Guinea immediately after the match against Celtic (on May 12),” Mosimane said.
“If the Guinea people put the game on Tuesday (May 15), then we are finished. You’ve got to understand that our first match in the Champions League is Wydad (on May 4-6) and then we play Horoya.
“You really don’t want to have your back against the wall in the group by having a bad start. The match against Horoya is the one (that we must win).
“Hopefully we win against Maritzburg United in the Nedbank Cup, and if we win that game we will have three days to return from Guinea and be in Cape Town for the final. It’s difficult.”
Sundowns’ remaining league matches are against Golden Arrows tomorrow, the Team of Choice on April 25, Ajax Cape Town three days later and then Celtic.
“Do you want to go to Bloemfontein in the last match and you are hoping for a win at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium?
“You are not serious if you do that,” Mosimane said.
““It’s not easy to do that. They don’t lose much there. Wrap it up early so that you can rest the important players. And I hope that no one will say that we are giving other people a chance to win against us. We have to look after ourselves, especially with our players falling off like this.”
Sibusiso Vilakazi and Thapelo Morena sustained knocks against Wits while Khama Billiat wasn’t even on the match-day squad due to an injury.
Mosimane will assess the fitness of the trio before their match against Abafana Bes’thende tomorrow at Loftus Versfeld.
“Too close. I don’t like this game,” Mosimane said. “It’s too close (from the Wits game). We need to grind the results, no frills. You’ll see frills next year.”