Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has had a bit of a breather from the majority of the Sundowns fans and the media lately. This after stringing together a couple of wins in his last two league games. Mosimane and his troops will now turn their attention to cup football as they welcome Chippa United to the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night in the Telkom Knockout round of 16.
Although the coach stressed the importance of doing well in the TKO, he says his ultimate goal is to make Downs a force to be reckoned with in continental football. Mosimane says: ‘It’s about time we match Pirates. We need to show that we’re good in Africa. Sometimes you can be good at home, and have nothing to show on the continent. You are measured by how you do on the continent.’. The Brazilians have qualified for Africa’s premier club competition for the last two years now, but have had little to no joy to look back on.
This is somewhat of a monkey on their backs considering the rather large sums of money pumped into the team by their billionaire president Patrice Motsepe, who has made no secret of the fact that he wants to ascend to the top of the African food chain. Mosimane, a one-time Bafana Bafana coach, says he did not get to finish what he started at national level, and wants to live that dream through the Chloorkop club: ‘Yes it’s part of why I joined Sundowns, hey. Because I know they want to conquer Africa. I never got to finish what I started at Bafana.’ The coach says his team needs to break the shackles and get to the next phase of the competition.
They were knocked out in the first round of this year’s tournament by four-time champions TP Mazembe (who are now in the semi-finals), something that seems to still haunt “Jingles”, who says: ‘We need to break the ice and go to the group stage. When you are there you don’t have to worry about the likes of Mazembe. Our problem is that we have not been seeded so we’ve got to break the ice and beat the big teams early.’ Meanwhile, Mosimane commended Orlando Pirates for their exploits on the continent. The Sea Robbers have reached the semi-finals of the Confederation Cup, and are on the verge of reaching the final if they can protect their 1-0 first leg lead when they take on Al Ahly this weekend in Cairo.
Mosimane says: ‘Pirates are the best team in South Africa continentally. They’ve proved it. We can argue and say whatever. Locally Sundowns is the best. We have six league titles. Other trophies are just for confidence and to save our jobs as coaches. The big ones are the league title and the Champions League.’ Mosimane will have to wait for next year to see if he can take his team to lofty heights and rid them of the perennial underachievers tag, but in the interim, there’s a local knockout competition to focus on.