JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane blames complacency for Mamelodi Sundowns returning from Rwanda with a goalless draw against Rayon Sports in the first leg of the CAF Champions League’s first round.
Sundowns had aimed to return with a positive result and then wrap the match up in Atteridgeville next Sunday.
Now they have to get a win in the home leg as a draw with goals would see them crash out of the continent's premier club competition.
This is almost similar to how Sundowns booked their place in the group stage of last year’s tournament. The Brazilians looked like they would wipe the floor with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) by going 2-0 up in the first six minutes of the first leg. They then took their foot off the pedal, allowing the Ugandans to score a crucial away goal which forced them to graft in the return leg.
“Rayon Sports played really well,” Mosimane said. “We were the better team in the first half but in the second half they came out stronger. To be honest, we could have lost the game because there was a ball that hit the post and went out.
It was a good and open game. It was the way I expected Rayon Sports to play. In the first half we frustrated them a little bit. We didn’t give them time on the ball and we won a lot of balls in the midfield.”
Mosimane continued, “I wasn’t happy with my team in the first half. We didn’t find it very difficult and we started to relax thinking that it’s going to be easy. But it never turned out like that because the opponents raised the bar. I think that my two centrebacks (Ricardo Nascimento and Wayne Arendse) and goalkeeper (Denis Onyango) played really well to defend against a fast attack. I am happy that we didn’t concede a goal.”
The Brazilians’ immediate challenge upon their return from Rwanda isn’t the Champions League. The Tshwane giants host amateur side EC Bees on Tuesday in the Nedbank Cup last 16 with the aim of not slipping on this potential banana peel with their focus on making it to the group stage of the Champions League for the third time in a row.
Sundowns’ trip to Rwanda showed though that they aren’t easily side-tracked. After two training sessions on an artificial pitch due to the lack of good grass pitches in Kigali, Sundowns’ only training session on grass in the match venue was cut short by a power failure.
At first glance that looked like mind games from the hosts but the apology from Rwandan Ministry of Sports and Culture to their people and Sundowns makes it look like a genuine power failure.
“We don’t like to make excuses,” Mosimane said to Rwandan journalists. “We didn’t train (at the match venue). It wasn’t nice. It’s not good for your country. It’s not good for football. You need to give the opponents an opportunity to train on the match venue because when you come to my country, imagine I do the same and switch off the lights? I am not saying that you guys switched off the lights. I hope you understand. It’s not good for football.
I think that you have a lovely country and a lovely team but you need to get rid of these things. You don’t need to switch off the lights and play mind games. We have been in the Champions League for a long time.
We don’t care about such things and they don’t affect us. It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about it. Just fix your house. Don’t switch lights off. It doesn’t work.”