JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane says he’s going to respect the Telkom Knockout - and their opponents Baroka FC - by not fielding fringe players tomorrow afternoon.
Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Polokwane to face Bakgaga in the quarter-finals of the cup and with the embarrassment of riches at Chloorkop, coach Mosimane was asked if he would be rotating his team to give all his players an equal opportunity to play.
“If this was Europe then that’s a given because they do that in the league cup and give other players a chance. The Telkom Knockout is like the league cup, but you have to understand and respect South Africa,” the Sundowns coach explained.
“The fans here are not happy when clubs do that - they love the cup. They don’t say, ah it’s just a league cup. To be honest this is a cup where you have to give other guys a chance, but we have had a different start and we need to pick up momentum.”
The Brazilians, although they have a two-game advantage and are the only unbeaten side in the Absa Premiership, started the season rather tepidly. This is why Mosimane wants to field his strongest squad against Baroka in the cup.
“We are not really free-flowing,” he said. “We are not in that easy space to say we can do that (rotate). So I don’t think we will go that way. We will try and gain momentum, maybe win three games in a row because I know when Sundowns can go three or four games in a row then it’s fireworks. And Sundowns doesn’t move down from the log. That is what I am hoping for and trying to keep consistency.”
A player that should then thrive from Mosimane picking the same team is attacking midfielder Gaston Sirino, who’s scored both winning goals for the club in their previous two games against Golden Arrows and Chippa United respectively.
“What did I say about him before the start of the season? I think he will be Footballer of the Year,” said Mosimane. “I could be wrong, but I know that I got it right in the last two years with Khama (Billiat) and Percy (Tau, while they were Sundowns players). I hope I get it right again this time as well.”
Billiat has since joined Kaizer Chiefs and Tau was signed for a reported record fee of R50-million by England’s Brighton & Hove Albion, although he has been sent on a season-long loan in Belgium.