JOHANNESBURG - Having cut a dejected figure during his post-match interview, even giving a reporter an awkward pause before answering any of the questions, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was unwavering in his belief that the Brazilians only need one win to overcome their current slump.
Sundowns were eliminated in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout on Sunday afternoon by Chippa United at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in East London - the defeat stretching their poor run to three consecutive losses. The winning strike, and the only goal in the match, came from the boot of substitute Samuel Julies just after the hour mark with virtually his first touch.
Mosimane argued that not only would a victory in their upcoming matches help them bounce back, but he, too, needed to ignore calls that Sundowns are a team embroiled in some kind of a crisis.
“I am the leader, if I press panic buttons then the players will also lose it,” Mosimane said. “We have to keep calm. This is our reality. You are the head of the club and you’ve got to keep everybody calm. And you’ve got to look at the game. Are we playing well? Yes, I think we are playing well. Are we dominating? Yes, all the time. We dominated in all the three games.”
The first of the three successive defeats came at home against Kaizer Chiefs in a PSL clash a little over two weeks ago. Then Sundowns hosted AmaZulu four days later and succumbed 2-1, the same scoreline as in the game against Chiefs.
It was then that Mosimane urged the club supporters to “buckle up” for a turbulent couple of weeks, predicting that it would be a while before the Brazilians returned to winning ways. Turns out he was spot on as Sundowns struggled to take their chances away to Chippa and were booted out in the first round of the Telkom Knockout.
“We must always score first because teams sit back against Sundowns. If you don’t score first it puts you in another situation. I don’t press panic buttons because I look at what’s happening there (during the game) and I understand. But if you don’t understand then you start asking yourself questions and saying 'why me or why this player?' We also don’t want to look at the referees when we lose,” Mosimane said.
💙👆🏽💚💛 we will bounce back pic.twitter.com/2OoMi4mMAI
Their elimination from the Cup means Sundowns will not be in action this weekend after their trip to Orlando Stadium, where they face Orlando Pirates in the league on Wednesday.
“Maybe it’s a good thing as we need a little bit of a breather. We need a win to come out of this. And if we don’t get it then it’s a dark cloud hanging there. That’s part of football,” Mosimane explained. “I don’t remember losing three games in a row in my entire career. Yah, it’s part of my growth and development also and history, in as much as there is another history.”
The coach also alluded to fatigue being a contributing factor, although he did not want to elaborate too much on the subject.
“You have to count that (fatigue), we have been playing non-stop for three seasons in a row. Sometimes people will say I am looking for excuses, but it is the reality. You need a break sometimes. Maybe it is right for us (to be knocked out). That’s part of it. Every coach goes through this,” Mosimane said.