Pitso Mosimane Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Pitso Mosimane Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Since they won the Caf Champions League title in 2016‚ the closest Mamelodi Sundowns have come to recapturing the continental holy grail was last season, and coach Pitso Mosimane agrees it is extremely difficult to go all the way.  

The Brazilians were knocked out 2-1 on aggregate in the semifinals by Wydad Casablanca last season and this season they fell to Al Ahly at the quarterfinal stage.

Mosimane compared the Caf with Europe’s equivalent‚ the Uefa Champions League‚ and the strength of the teams who enter that competition with no guarantees of success.

“If you say that we have to win it‚ what are you saying to Bayern Munich; Paris Saint-Germain, who have Kylian Mbappé and Neymar; Manchester City, who have spent a lot of money; Liverpool, who have the attack of Sadio Mané‚ Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah; or Barcelona, who have Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez‚” the Sundowns coach said.

Over the past 11 seasons‚ only Espérance‚ Al-Ahly and TP Mazembe have won the tournament back to back, while the other winners in this period have been Wydad Casablanca‚ ES Sétif and Sundowns.

“Al Ahly have gone about six years without winning it. It has been a while since Wydad won it‚ Zamalek have not won it in the past five years but they are in the semifinals now‚” Mosimane said.

“Check the last time Raja Casablanca and TP Mazembe won it — it’s been a long time. It is only Esperance who have won it two years in a row recently.

“It is the same with the Uefa Champions League. The only people who can speak about consistency are Esperance [in Caf] and Real Madrid [in Uefa]. Even if you go to the Copa Libertadores in South America or the AFC Champions League in Asia‚ you won’t find one team that has been winning it every year.

“How long did it take SA to win the Champions League after Orlando Pirates? It took 20-odd years. In Europe‚ Barcelona have not won the Champions League in a while. It is the same with Juventus and PSG and Man City. With the money they have spent they have not won it.”

Mosimane added that wining the Champions League is sometimes about luck and for big moments to go your way.

“It’s more than tactics — you need crucial moments to go your way. I will make an example of the ball deflecting from the foot of Wayne Arendse and falling for Ali Maâloul to score in Cairo [when Sundowns lost the first leg of their quarter against Ahly in February].

“It was a big moment in the game against Al Ahly and what are you going to do about it? You can’t blame the ball for deflecting.

“Another example was a free-kick on the near post where there is nobody and Lebohang Maboe tries to clear the ball and he puts it into his own net. It is another big moment and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Mosimane said Sundowns would give the Champions League another full effort again next season.

“We have to give it another go next season. If you ask Juve‚ Barca‚ Real Madrid‚ Man City‚ Liverpool if they want to win it they will all say ‘yes’.

“You have to give it a go. Next season we will have a stronger team than this year. The other year we were not stronger but we went to the semifinals. That’s why I am saying that you can’t just say that this year we are going to win it — with the PSL you can say that but not with the Champions League.”