Hlompho Kekana was among a host of Sundowns who missed the Esperance clash due to injury. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – With a growing injury list that is starting to take its toll on the performance of the team, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has again urged the Premier Soccer League to consider changing the country’s football calendar.

“If it was up to me, this thing is simple. We should play from January and take a break in November and December,” he said after the Brazilians suffered a sucker punch against Esperance de Tunis in their third CAF Champions League group phase clash on Friday night, where they lost 2-1, with the visitors grabbing a winner through a penalty kick with the game all but over.

“But it is not my decision,” he continued. “I don’t want to sound like I don’t respect the local league. We have to prioritise and figure out what we want. Are we happy to continue this never-ending season for a fourth year in a row because we are playing in the Champions League again next year?

“For me, it is again simple – we can fight for the league title here at home and the Champions League, and leave the rest (domestic competitions). I don’t think our local league is doing us any favours with our calendar.”

Mosimane’s plea comes on the back of a congested fixture list that has seen captain Hlompho Kekana, Khama Billiat, Anthony Laffor, Wayne Arendse, Ricardo Nascimento and Yannick Zakri all miss Friday’s crucial fixture against Group C opponents Esperance, who are now top of the table with seven points.

Khama Billiat has missed large parts of the season through injury. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Sundowns dropped to third place on four points after Saint George (five points) beat AS Vita Club 1-0 on Sunday in the other group match in Addis Ababa.

“Our league schedule doesn’t suit teams playing in the African competitions, and I am also worried now because we have six players called up for Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria,” Mosimane explained.

“This would have been an ideal time to rest a bit, but they have to represent their country. In my opinion, we need to change the programme because we can’t solve this problem.”

Pitso Mosimane feels that the PSL cannot continue with a "never-ending season". Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Esperance assistant coach Mouin Chaabani agrees that the South African calendar is too Eurocentric.

“If CAF want the quality and the seriousness in these competitions to improve, then they have to think about changing the calendar. In Tunisia, we don’t play at the same time as the countries in Central Africa for instance. We want to make the Champions League better and to give everything we’ve got, but it won’t happen with the current programme.”

Mosimane said another option for Sundowns was to buy more players to have the depth to compete on all fronts, but that would temper with his team’s chemistry.

“You always want to play your best players so that there is consistency and you keep the flow the same.”

Independent Media

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