Pitso: Sundowns have work to do in Africa
JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane’s nonchalance at the post-match press conference of Mamelodi Sundowns’ Caf Champions League Group C clash with USM Alger gave the impression of a man who viewed the game’s outcome as “one of those regular occurrences”.
There was nothing new with Sundowns qualifying for the knockout stage of Africa’s premier club competition, of course. The fact that they did so with two games to spare did not really seem to be a big deal for “Jingles”. Deep in the bowels of Loftus in the stadium’s auditorium, Mosimane appeared oblivious to the presence of the media as he feasted on a yoghurt - the video cameras, cellphones and microphones fixed on him hardly a source of concern.
He had cleaned up the yoghurt tub by the time the Caf media officer began the press conference, but he still gave the impression of a man who would rather be having dinner at home. Mosimane hardly bothered to sit up so he was closer to the recording gadgets in front of him, leaning back into his chair for most of the proceedings.
He spoke so softly that the older scribes who still use notebooks and pens to jot down quotes had to crane their necks and strain their ears to hear what he was saying.
Yet what he said made one understand just why he was not as animated as the Brazilians faithful, whose singing and feet stomping as they left Loftus contrived to make hearing aids a necessary commodity.
While delighted to have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, Mosimane acknowledged that Sundowns are still very far from adding a second star to their jersey.
“There’s still the likes of Esperance, Al Ahly, (TP) Mazembe and Raja (Casablanca) to play against. So, we are still going to have to sweat,” Mosimane said. “You have to face any of those teams. We cannot hide. To go through, you have to play the top teams. But this team, they are very experienced. So, I believe we have an equal chance with everyone to win.”
Mosimane described Saturday’s 2-1 victory over USM Alger as a game that went according to plan, although he lamented the fact that Sundowns’ goal return was in stark contrast to the chances they created.
“Yes, it is true that we do not score as much as we should and we are working on getting an extra finisher. But I am happy that the team gets to create the chances the way that we do,” the 2016 Champions League-winning coach said.
Sundowns created enough to have rendered the match a no-contest at the half-hour mark already.
Sibusiso Vilakazi missed two glorious opportunities, and Themba Zwane should also have got his name on the scoresheet before Thapelo Morena broke the deadlock on 36 minutes.
A sleepy defence allowed the Algerians the equaliser on the stroke of halftime, but then Vilakazi made amends for his earlier misses with a goal almost immediately.
The visitors missed a penalty five minutes from time, and Sundowns bagged the points that ensured their spot in the knockout stage.