Cape Town — A delicate balancing act faces Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane as he prepares to welcome newly crowned Telkom Knockout champions Baroka FC to the Lucas Moripe Stadium for a Premiership clash on Tuesday.
The game comes just days before the away leg of their African Champions League second-round tie against Al Ahly Benghazi from Libya‚ a fixture that will be played in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Mosimane has made it clear that after the disappointment of a group stage exit in the last edition of the continental championship‚ he is determined to find success‚ but faces a difficult opponent in the Libyans.
He will likely look to fringe players to fill some positions against a Baroka side, who he will hope still have a hangover from their maiden cup final win.
When Cape Town City lifted the same trophy in 2016‚ they played a struggling Platinum Stars a few days later and lost
4-0 at home‚ still the club’s record defeat in a fixture in which it was clear their minds were still elsewhere.
"It’s not an easy one because we have a thorn in the flesh, which is the Baroka game in midweek‚" Mosimane said last week‚ before making it clear that Al Ahly is the priority this week.
"That’s a big one‚ against a very big team. It’s up to the boys to bring confidence to the country‚" he said.
"We have to win against that team so that we give Bafana Bafana confidence because most of the players who play for Libya are there. It’s important to win away."
Their African adventure means this is the last league fixture for Sundowns in 2018 and it could see them go top of the table as they trail leaders
Orlando Pirates by three points‚ but with three games in hand.
Mosimane will have been relieved by an upturn in his side’s form in recent months in which they have lost just once in their last 12 games.
That defeat came against Baroka though when they were beaten 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout.
Mosimane has been boosted in recent times by the return of a number of his injured stars‚ especially defender Rivaldo Coetzee‚ winger Aubrey Ngoma and stalwart forward Anthony Laffor‚ who all add significantly to his squad depth.
He is also finally getting goals out of New Zealand international striker Jeremy Brockie‚ while Venezuelan forward Jose Ali Meza also recently broke his duck for the side.
Baroka coach Wedson Nyirenda is a cool customer who will certainly not get carried away by his team’s cup success‚ but bringing a young squad like his back down to earth so quickly after a major triumph will be hard.
Defeat could see them slip to the foot of the table after this round of midweek matches.
They have just a single win in their last 17 away league games‚ though that did come last time out with a 2-1 success at Lamontville Golden Arrows.