JOHANNESBURG - Pitso Mosimane has challenged Mamelodi Sundowns to continue with their good start, arguing that the rest will take care of itself in their attempt to claw back the Absa Premiership title from Wits.
The Brazilians are notorious for their slow start. Their 2-0 win over SuperSport United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday was the first time in three seasons that Sundowns had won their opening league game. Last season they started with a draw against Maritzburg United and a defeat to Cape Town City. In the two seasons before that, Sundowns only picked up four points out of a possible 12 in their first four matches.
“It would be nice to start well because I know that once this team gains momentum, we are not easy to stop,” Mosimane said.
“We haven’t started well in the past. I like this (win) because this was good preparation for Wydad (Casablanca who we will face in the quarter-finals of the Champions League). We need to prepare the team, get the confidence and score goals because we'll need to score against Wydad.”
Even though Sundowns eased to victory over Matsatsantsa, they are yet to find their rhythm. New signings Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese are still getting used to their teammates and what’s expected from them. The Brazilians are on their third week back from the break Mosimane gave them after they qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Matsatsantsa are also still finding their feet, coming from a short break after qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Caf Confederation Cup.
SuperSport also have to deal with life under new coach Eric Tinkler. The coach has a tough act to follow after Stuart Baxter guided the team to Nedbank Cup glory and Kaitano Tembo took the side to the knockout stage of the Confederation Cup. Matsatsantsa will make a short trip to Zambia to take on Zesco United in the last eight.
But before these Tshwane giants can continue with their quest for continental dominance, they have domestic assignments to focus on first. Sundowns host Polokwane City at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Tuesday, while SuperSport take on Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday at FNB Stadium before facing the Team of Choice in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals.
Matsatsantsa will be without captain Dean Furman, who was sent off against Sundowns, for both of those matches. Tinkler has a simple explanation to what would make this a successful season for him, taking over a club that has done well in knockout competitions but hasn’t won the league in seven years.
“For me what would be a successful season, to be honest, would be finishing higher than what we did last season,” Tinkler said. “That was my aim when I joined Cape Town City. Even though I joined Cape Town City, I saw it as Mpumalanga Black Aces who finished fourth the previous season with 47 points.
"I wanted to better that (and I did by finishing third). SuperSport finished fifth last season, can we finish higher than that? That has to be our primary objective. And then obviously Cup competitions. Cup competitions are always an opportunity to redeem yourself during the season. I want to finish this season holding up a trophy of some sort.”