Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has told the Ugandan press that he will not use the facilities at of the tiny‚ artificial-surfaced Phillip Omondi Stadium as an excuse when his side meet KCCA there on Saturday.
Downs could only manage a 2-1 home win against Kampala Capital City Authority in the first leg in Atteridgeville on Friday of this Caf Champions League tie‚ and have given themselves an uphill battle surviving the first round as defending champions.
They take on KCCA on the plastic surface of their tiny 10 000-seater home ground‚ where the Ugandan club enjoy close‚ vocal support‚ though nothing that can compare to the 70 000 Sundowns encountered in Alexandria in last year’s final against Zamalek.
Speaking to the Ugandan press after Thursday’s training session in Kampala‚ Mosimane said taking various conditions in their stride has become the norm for Downs in continental competition.
“If you start making an excuse about the facilities that we find here‚ you’re making the biggest mistake‚” Downs’ coach said.
“In the Champions League‚ first you’ve got to be positive‚ second you’ve got to respect‚ and third you’ve got to be realistic.
“I can’t expect KCCA to be putting out a pitch that I have in South Africa – then I’m unfair.
“So you have to deal with what you get‚ and you have to respect and take what comes to you.
“Because if you start looking at what you have‚ and what the other person has‚ then you start to be materialistic. And that’s when you lose the game – when you start to lose respect.”
A talking point in Uganda has been the injury to Caf’s local-based footballer of the year Denis Onyango on his return to his home city.
The 31-year-old is sure to be replaced by Wayne Sandilands – the hero of Alexandria‚ when Onyango went off early in the first half – in Sundowns’ goal.
Sibusiso Vilakazi and Onyango’s fellow Caf nominee Khama Billiat add to Downs’ injury situation.
Sandilands was barely troubled in the home leg‚ apart from former Bloemfontein Celtic winger Geoffrey Sserunkuma’s goal pulled back in the 69th minute after Downs raced into a 2-0 lead inside seven minutes.
KCCA might be a different prospect at home and Mosimane knows Downs will have to be at their disciplined best preserving a single-goal lead‚ further disadvantage by having conceded an away goal.
“It’s still an open game. But I’d rather come here with a goal lead than not have the lead‚” he said.
“It’s all about concentration that we need. It’s about respecting KCCA.
“They [Downs’ players] know they have to do the business. They won the Champions League last year. They know what they have to do to win the Champions League.
“So they must deal with the match tomorrow. They know what they have to do – their concentration and their professionalism.
“And I think if they leave some of their skin on this pitch we’ll be OK. It’s enough.”
– Tiso Black Star Group Digital/Tiso Black Star Group Sport