JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane has reassuring words for Mamelodi Sundowns fans losing sleep over how their not-so-mobile central defenders will deal with twin strikers Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga when they host Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow (3.30pm).
It’s likely that the Buccaneers will bank on this Zambian duo once more in the top of the Absa Premiership clash in Tshwane.
“Do you remember Alje Schut? Thabo Nthethe? We have never had those quick centre-backs, and we suffered. But if you really look, we don’t concede a lot and in the five years I have been here we have probably conceded fewer goals than everybody else,” Mosimane said yesterday.
“Sometimes it is about being smart, intelligent in how you play, knowing how to position yourself. People like (Ricardo) Nascimento, he knows he is not too fast but he knows how to position himself. (Mosa) Lebusa is not too fast either, but he can position himself.
Everybody always says, ‘ah, but Sundowns have the slowest defence’. But why are we not conceding so many goals? In five years we have conceded fewer than everybody.”
Shonga and Mulenga have also been aided by in-form talisman Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch, who contribute with important goals when the Zambian strikers are tightly marked.
Mosimane will have a plan for Pule and Lorch, too.
“When you push your central defence up to the halfway line and you are playing against Pule, Lorch, Shonga and Mulenga, you are killing your team because that is how they score,” said the coach of the title holders.
“Don’t play to their strength. I know sometimes they say the best way to defend is to attack. Yes, I like that, but sometimes it doesn’t happen like that.
“Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (of Liverpool) just try and play on the halfway line and you will see they go through. It’s the same with (Raheem) Sterling and (Leroy) Sané (at Manchester City).”
While he hopes his back four will have answers for the Bucs' twin strikers, Mosimane still showed a great deal of admiration for the two attackers.
“They are typical Zambian strikers and like most SADC region forwards - they are mobile and they have the physical strength. It’s like (Khama) Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Evans Rusike. They are full of energy and movement - that is why you will find that they don’t struggle when they come to the PSL because we also produce those kind of players.
“When you go to West Africa, they are slower, they use the body, and their region plays football like that. In Zambia they like them skilful,” Mosimane concluded.