JOHANNESBURG - A bullish Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane hit out at Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt for suggesting that his team will play a role in deciding where the Absa Premiership title will go.
The Clever Boys have been terrible in their title defence, going from league champions to staring at the barrel of relegation the next season. Wits have slowly been clawing their way out of the danger zone, putting a six-point cushion between themselves and Platinum Stars, who languish at the bottom.
While the Clever Boys will not retain their title, their final stretch in the league race will see them face Cape Town City, Sundowns and Orlando Pirates - who are in the title race. This after holding challengers Kaizer Chiefs to a 1-1 draw.
“The League is ours to lose,” Mosimane said. “We need to try and maintain our (No. 1) position. We have to manage everyone around us. We had to manage Chiefs and Cape Town City. Free State Stars are closer to us and they are our next game. We have to manage them. But while you manage those, there are people who are coming up.”
Mosimane continued, “Suddenly Free State Stars are second on the log. Suddenly Orlando Pirates are second on the log. Suddenly Chiefs are second on the log. You’ve got to be smart and box cleverly.
“You also have those who are at the bottom of the log, like Wits, who can only destabilise teams (fighting for the championship) a little bit. But they are not doing it for us. Nobody has the key to the league. Don’t listen to people say, ‘I will determine who will win the league’.
"No! You are fighting to avoid relegation, my friend. Sort your team out. If you don’t win you are going down. At this point in time nobody is doing anyone favours. Everyone has something that they are fighting for.”
“Jingles”, who prides himself on playing beautiful football, argues that “managing” teams around them might mean the Brazilians being conservative in certain matches, like they did against Chiefs to leave FNB Stadium with a point after their recent scoreles draw.
“Sometimes you need to turn the volume a little bit lower, you can’t always be playing it on full blast. We play it on full blast when it’s a party.”
The next three months will see the Brazilians compete on three fronts - in the PSL, Caf Champions League and Nedbank Cup. But Mosimane is unfazed by the upcoming work-load as the club’s fitness trainer, Kabelo Rangoaga proved himself last season.
The Brazilians can boast to be the only team in the country to have reached the final of a continental competition and not struggle afterwards.
“You need to have the right tactical awareness and plan,” Mosimane said. “What’s your plan on this hectic programme? You get it wrong, you’re out and you are going to have problems. We went to the Champions League up until the final and we won it. We went to Japan (for the Fifa Club World Cup). Where did we finish in the log - second, three points behind (Wits).
"Weren’t we travelling? So when we lost games we should have made excuses? No my friend, manage your programme. If you don’t have experience, ask! I am not saying that our programme is the best, it might not be the best but it’s better because we know where we are. We are going to challenge for the Champions League, we will fight until the end in the league and we will try and win the Nedbank Cup.”