Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX/SAMUEL SHIVAMBU
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX/SAMUEL SHIVAMBU

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane lost his composure at the postmatch media conference after his side’s 2-1 Caf Champions League defeat to Esperance de Tunis‚ getting into a verbal sparring match with assistant coach Othman Najjar.

Najjar was in attendance‚ as his English was better than that of Esperance head coach Faouzi Benzarti. He was at the receiving end of several salvoes from Mosimane‚ who at first tried to keep the banter light, but could not bottle up his frustration.

Mosimane admitted Soumahoro Bangaly’s reckless late challenge that led to the 90th-minute penalty — scored by Yassine Khenissi — was not clever.

He felt Downs displayed a quickness that Esperance struggled to cope with‚ and said a string of injuries – to Hlompo Kekana‚ Khama Billiat‚ Ricardo Nascimento and Anthony Laffor – had affected the Brazilians’ chances of a home win.

"Then you only wish you have your [full] team to play. This team, we can beat. Even in Tunis‚ we can beat this team, I believe so‚" Mosimane said.

At that point, the Sundowns coach started one of several verbal sparring matches with Najjar. "I see you laugh‚ huh – we are the champions‚" Mosimane said‚ cutting off Najjar‚ who was trying to say: "I think it will be difficult. If you cannot win here‚ you cannot win in Tunisia‚ I think."

To which Mosimane responded‚ "I have been to Kinshasa [where Downs beat AS Vita 3-1 in May]. I have to remind you – three goals‚ OK?"

Najjar responded: "We have also beaten Vita with three goals." Mosimane queried: "Where? At home?" Najjar replied: "Yeah‚ at home." To which Mosimane responded: "Yeah‚ go [play] away."

Najjar‚ looking increasingly bewildered‚ said: "We will go. But we will make the same result as Sundowns."

Mosimane could not stop himself‚ saying: "OK, you win my friend. It’s OK‚ I understand the mentality in North Africa. It’s the same mentality as you have.

"It’s OK‚ you win‚ you can make a mockery out of it – it’s fine. But if I had a full team‚ you can never come out of Pretoria."

Even then‚ as the microphone was turned over to Najjar‚ Mosimane landed one last blow‚ saying: "Now let’s listen to you – keep boasting, hey. Let’s hear you now.

"Maybe you have won the Champions League before. I’ve got it in front of me – the Champions League‚ coach of Africa. It’s your chance now."

Mosimane was not pleased either‚ and justifiably so, that Sundowns were not allowed by the Confederation of African Football (Caf), the continental governing body, to play the game at 3pm.

It has been the coach’s policy in home games, such as last year’s final against Zamalek, to maximise home advantage by trying to play at a different time to what the opposition are accustomed too.

"We wanted to play during the day, but Caf overruled us. And you know why we wanted to play at 3pm‚" Mosimane said.

"Because they [Esperance] play at night‚ and they are in the period of Ramadan‚ and it’s our advantage – we have to use it.

"The sun sets earlier in winter in SA‚ so they’ve got that three hours to eat and play at 8pm.

TMG Digital

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