JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has made it clear that they’ll either “go big or go home” in the Nedbank Cup tournament this season.
On paper and on the field, Sundowns are the most consistent team in top-flight football, having gone more than a year unbeaten in the league, while they continue to be a force in domestic and continental cup competitions.
Their focus will now shift to South Africa’s premier club knockout competition as they travel to Eastern Cape to face Chippa United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off).
Having already lost out of the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout this season, this will be the only chance for Sundowns to walk away with a domestic cup gold medal.
However, it won’t be like taking candy from a baby, especially as it will be at the same time as the Absa Premiership and CAF Champions League - two competitions that are dear to the Brazilians’ camp.
“Nedbank is important for us because the other two cups are gone,” Mosimane said. “And at the moment we have nothing in our cabinet this season. So who are we to rest players? Do I also have a guarantee that we will win the league? We don’t.
“We need to try to get something at the end of the year, but I hope that if we are not going to win the Nedbank Cup, we might go out early. It is a very difficult competition and hopefully if we proceed, we’ll get a breather in our next games because there are tough games in Africa and games in hand that need to be completed in the league.”
What makes the trip to Port Elizabeth tricky for the Brazilians is being in the dark about the Chilli Boys’ plans considering their relegation battle.
Coach Clinton Larsen and his troops are currently languishing second from bottom following a string of poor results, while they are in a race against time to ensure that they remain afloat.
To this end, Mosimane is afraid that teams that play with freedom and lack of pressure normally present the most danger.
“Chippa is a difficult club, and I think that Clinton Larsen knows that,” Mosimane said. “I think he’s expected to win the Nedbank and finish in the top eight, so it’s tough. But I don’t know what his priorities are. Larsen will also be hoping to win it; otherwise he’ll have to focus on not relegating the team.”
Should Sundowns fail to clinch a top-three spot in the league, they’ll be guaranteed a return to continental competition if they win the Nedbank Cup, which opens up a second spot in the Confederation Cup.
But to Sundowns those attempts are the last thing on their minds as their primary focus is ensuring that they bag silverware every season.
“I am not focusing on trebles, but on what’s important for the club. And what’s important for Mamelodi Sundowns is to win the next available cup, and the next available cup is the league and the Nedbank follows a week after,” Mosimane said.@Mihlalibaleka