Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane gives instructions to Andile Jali during an earlier match. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGE PIX
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane gives instructions to Andile Jali during an earlier match. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGE PIX

Pitso Mosimane hopes to have influential midfielders Andile Jali and Themba Zwane back to full fitness for Mamelodi Sundowns’ big Premiership encounter against Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday.

Zwane and Jali were left out of Downs’ 1-0 extra-time Nedbank Cup victory over Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday due to hamstring injuries.

That Mosimane, who is usually loath to rotate, made four changes from their 1-0 midweek league win away to Stellenbosch FC suggests he has been juggling his players in anticipation of the match against Pirates.

Second-placed Downs need all three points against Pirates to put pressure on log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

Mosimane’s attempt to portray important midfielders Jali and Zwane as doubtful, does also have a hint of gamesmanship to it.

Jali may have a mild hamstring strain, but before the game against Highlands Mosimane had said his main reason for resting the Bafana Bafana central midfielder was his three yellow cards and to avoid a suspension against Pirates.

“It’s important that they recover, because both have got hamstring [niggles]. But you can never say they are available until Monday,” Mosimane said after Kgeletso Makgalwa’s 115th-minute strike earned Sundowns a hard-fought win against Highlands.

“Monday will tell you, or Tuesday morning. We’ll see. We struggled to have our combination plays without them — you could see. But we went through. It’s a cup game.”

Mosimane said he also made substitutions against Highlands, such as Nicholus Lukhubeni replacing Sibusiso Vilakazi at the start of extra time, with an eye to playing Pirates.

“This one, going to extra time, will affect the game against Pirates. That’s why I didn’t want to keep ‘Vila’ a little longer, for Tuesday. But, at the moment, as long as we went through. That is important.”

Sundowns (44 points from 21 games) would like a win against Pirates on Tuesday in a big week in the title race to keep pressure on Chiefs (48 from 22), who meet sixth-placed championship outsiders Bidvest Wits (38 from 21) at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.