Pitso Mosimane’s lads return to Loftus to seek redemption as they chase league title
Premiership is their last chance for Mamelodi Sundowns to bag some silverware this season
Pitso Mosimane and his Mamelodi Sundowns charges return to Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night to seek redemption in the domestic Premiership just days after their heartbreaking exit from the African Champions League.
Sundowns exited the continental club tournament in the semifinal stage after a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca at the weekend, and the domestic league title is now their last opportunity to salvage some silverware this season.
The Brazilians remain second on the premiership standings and go into Tuesday night’s league encounter against Golden Arrows trailing leaders Orlando Pirates by a point with a game in hand.
A win for Sundowns against Arrows will see them displace Pirates at the summit and establish a two points lead with one round of league matches remaining.
Mosimane said he expects a tough outing against Arrows and will not take anything for granted.
“Do we have a guarantee on Tuesday?” asked Mosimane. “I don’t like to get excited too quickly because anything is possible on Tuesday.
“You can’t celebrate first. You have to win first and after you win then it will be a different story.”
Mosimane said they will have to manage the game as it will be their sixth in 15 days while Arrows have enjoyed a good rest.
“We still have to win the game against Arrows because a game in hand is not a game won‚” he said. “This will be the sixth game in 15 days for these boys and it is not easy. I think you know how well rested Arrows are.
“This one is going to be an emotional game‚ so I don’t think physique will say much. We just have to control the game‚ play the Sundowns way and I believe we can win it.
“But having said that‚ Pirates believed they could beat Cape Town City, remember? [Pirates dropped two priceless points in a game that ended in a potentially title-deciding 2-2 draw].
“It is football‚ so let’s see what happens on Tuesday. We have come far with all the travelling‚ the games‚ the stresses‚ the pressures and Rabat to Thohoyandou was the big one," Mosimane said.
“I never thought we would come back from Thohoyandou but we managed to do it‚” he said‚ adding that Pirates are still in the title race.
“They kept the same team for two years‚ they kept the coach‚ increased the personnel and they really showed that they want it. I have said they can win it and if they win it I will really give congratulations to Milutin Sredojevic‚ Rulani Mokwena and Fadlu Davids.
“To win the Champions League or the league title is not easy, but the Champions League is played in a different way and on a different level.”
Meanwhile Nick Said reports that Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic believes Thembinkosi Lorch has been his side’s most influential player this season as the club seek to end their five-year trophy drought on the final weekend of the Absa Premiership campaign.
Pirates lead second-placed Sundowns by a point but have played a game more and will hope to still have their noses in front going into Saturday’s final round of league matches when they host Polokwane City.
They will know the final-day permutations after Sundowns host Arrows on Tuesday.
Whatever happens‚ Sredojevic says the fact that his side have only lost three out of 35 domestic league and cup matches this season is cause for celebration.
“We have had a tremendous season and I must congratulate the players‚” he said. “In every knockout competition we have not lost straight‚ we have only lost on penalties. It is something that we hope football will pay us back [this weekend].”
Pirates look set to surpass their points total of last season when they finished runners-up to Sundowns‚ and that shows progress, according to the Serbian coach.
“With 54 points now … last year we had 55‚ so if we get to 57 points then we have surpassed what we did last year‚” he said‚ adding that his side’s failure to kill off opponents is a worry.
“We had so many draws ‚ very unfortunate‚ games we were supposed to win‚” he said. “I would say in at least half of them we were supposed to win convincingly‚ so we regret that. It is an expensive bill that you pay when you are in a process [of building].
“To have only lost three matches in a whole season up to now is something … but we need to reduce the number of draws to have more wins.”
Pressed on who his player of the season has been at Pirates‚ Sredojevic says it has been a team effort‚ but he did single out one in particular.
“If you ask me as a coach‚ I will say Thembinkosi Lorch has contributed the most to the team‚” he said. “But when I look at everything‚ I can say we have a tremendous group of players who play with the heart‚ and a bench that is giving everything.
“As for most improved player … we regret that he had two injuries‚ but Ben Motshwari has really improved this season.”