Mosimane's Sundowns machine now shifts focus to domestic duties
Coach Pitso Mosimane's well-oiled Mamelodi Sundowns machine now shifts focus to the domestic front just days after their impressive showing against Egyptian powerhouses Al Ahly in the quarterfinals of the Champions League in Egypt a few days ago.
Mosimane's second-placed Brazilians resume their pursuit of domestic premiership leaders Orlando Pirates when they welcome Tshwane rivals SuperSport United in an eagerly anticipated derby at Loftus on Wednesday.
Sundowns returned from Egypt on Monday morning with a Champions League semifinal place secured after a 5-1 aggregate win over Al Ahly.
But domestic leaders Pirates opened up a six point gap in the league while Sundowns were distracted by their continental duties‚ even though the Bucs have played three more matches than their rivals.
Mosimane gave his players time off on Monday and they only did light training on Tuesday morning.
Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana told TimesLIVE they have taken the heavy schedule in their stride.
“At this stage of the season‚ it is more about resting than training because we have a busy travelling schedule‚” said Kekana.
Sundowns' catch-up programme is made up of three games in a space of seven days against SuperSport United on Wednesday‚ a trip to Polokwane to Baroka FC on Saturday and a visit by Chippa United next week.
Kekana said they fly out to Morocco for the Champions League semifinals after the match against Chippa United.
“Fortunately for most of us‚ we are used to this type of schedule because we have been doing it for the past five years‚" he said.
"It is always good to see that even new players to the team like Lebohang Maboe have adapted very well to the challenges of competing on the continent and domestically.”
Kekana said Pirates’ six points advantage at the top of the log has put them under pressure as they now have to win all their remaining matches six matches in the league.
“The title race is going to be an interesting one over the next few weeks and it is going to be more about how we handle the pressure mentally‚" he said.
"Every game is going to be do or die for us because we can’t compromise the domestic league over the Champions League.
"We are going to continue fighting tooth and nail to finish as best as we can in both the Champions League and the Absa Premiership.”
Looking ahead to the clash against SuperSport United‚ where they have won nine and drawn one in their last ten matches‚ Kekana is expecting another tough encounter.
“It is going to be a tricky match for both of us because we need the points‚" he said.
"We want to close the gap on Pirates to keep things interesting and they (United) want to improve their position on the log.
"There is always something when we play against them and it is a derby which means pride will be at stake.
"We have dominated them over the past few years in the league but you will never know with a derby match.”