Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES

As pressure mounts on Mamelodi Sundowns in their attempt to defend the league title and shrug off a challenge from league leaders Kaizer Chiefs‚ coach Pitso Mosimane has called on his players to soak it up and give their all in the remaining two matches.

Sundowns missed a glorious opportunity on Sunday to open a three-point gap at the top of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) after a 1-0 defeat to Baroka FC ensured they failed to capitalise on Chiefs’ loss on the same day.

The defending champions have an inferior goal difference to Chiefs and will now have to outscore Ernst Middendorp’s side by five clear goals in their remaining matches.

Sundowns play bottom club Polokwane City on Wednesday and then take on another relegation-threatened Limpopo side, Black Leopards, on the final day on Saturday.

“As coaches, we are paid to be professionals and we are trained to take the pressure that comes with it. There is always pressure‚ there are always expectations and everybody has got an opinion‚” said Mosimane.

“Professionals must play with the pressure. In fact‚ they must enjoy the pressure and thrive under pressure.”

Sundowns showed signs of cracking against Baroka when pitted against a resolute defence and will on Wednesday have to be more creative‚ clinical and innovative when they face a Clinton Larsen-coached City side that can beat any PSL opponent on their day despite propping up the table.

The Sundowns players went into the clash against Baroka in Dobsonville knowing Chiefs were beaten 1-0 by Bidvest Wits earlier in the day.

While the pressure of knowing the result from the Chiefs match may have weighed heavily on their minds‚ Mosimane did not want to use this as an excuse.

“No, no, no‚ we are going with this thing [title chase] until it ends‚ it does not matter‚” Mosimane added.

“It’s your life. You are a professional. You are getting paid to work under pressure. You are getting paid to be criticised. So my players should understand that‚ including myself.”

Sundowns are still on course for a treble as they can add the league title and the Nedbank Cup to the Telkom Knockout they secured earlier this season.

“I come out stronger under very high criticism and I like to look back and say to whoever said these things can never happen or we can’t make it and say‚ you look at us now.

“If you don’t want to be criticised‚ don’t be a coach. If you don’t like to be criticised‚ then don’t be a player.”

Chiefs coach Middendorp struggled to take in the defeat against Wits and was so devastated that he did not show up for the mandatory post-match interview with the media.

“As you said, coach Middendorp did not even go to his post-match interview. It’s frustration. We are human beings and expectations are high. It’s madness,” said Mosimane.

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