PRETORIA – In the space of two minutes Pitso Mosimane revealed Mamelodi Sundowns’ secret behind their 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions, complimented Orlando Pirates and then threw a jibe at the Brazilians’ rivals in the league race.
It was vintage Mosimane - insightful, analytical and bullish. Those traits and others are the fuel that drives “Jingles” in his quest to ensure that Sundowns become the first team to win ten league titles in the Premier Soccer League-era.
The Brazilians are on course for title No 8 thanks to their strong finish. Sundowns have collected 15 points from their last five matches to stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 despite a hectic schedule.
“At this point in time the guys don’t even care about the heavy programme,” Mosimane said.
“They just want to win the league and they told you that they want to win the league. We don’t even motivate them. But what we do, we don’t train (much). We give them lots of rest.”
“We’ve been in this space before. We understand the situation. We know the heavy programme and I said it before that we aren’t going to make excuses about this programme.”
Mosimane continued: “That’s why I say that come next year, I would love to see Orlando Pirates in the Caf Champions League where they would have to play eight games in 25 days, with travelling. Let’s see if they can cope. They are a good team. We need them.”
“I think that they will do well in the Champions League, honestly speaking. But sometimes when you focus on the Champions League, you give away the league and then don’t be surprised when you finish 10th on the log.”
The “don’t be surprised when you finish 10th on the log” line was in reference to the Buccaneers who recorded their worst finish in the PSL-era last season as they finished in 11th place. Pirates slumped to that finish due to the club’s failure to refresh the squad that reached the finals of the 2013 Champions League and the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup, which they both lost.
In contrast, Sundowns’ “setback” of going far in the Champions League in the last two years was losing the league to Bidvest Wits by just three points. That disappointment hurt Sundowns, especially since they let the league slip in their last five matches - drawing four and only winning one.
The Brazilians regrouped and they are close to honouring Mosimane’s promise that he knew where the league was and he would fetch it, adding that it’s a good thing that Milpark is by the freeway which makes it speedily accessible.
“We need four points (to win the league with three games to go),” Mosimane said. “I am not worried about getting those points. What I like is that the games are getting less and lesser. That’s more important. The number of points that we need to get to win the league is neither here nor there. We are strong.”
“It has helped us that the Champions League programme is slightly different this year. Around this time we also had Champions League commitments. The way its structured now suits us to finish the league without much Champions League interference, except that match against Wydad (Casablanca at the start of the group stage) before the league finishes.”
“But you don’t want to go to that match needing to win it and then have to win the other league match to win the league. We want to avoid that. The boys are aware and they are trying to kill it as early as possible.”