With a CAF Champions League knockout berth secured, Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane says more effort will now be put into the team’s run in the Absa Premiership.
The defending champions face Orlando Pirates in an epic league fixture at Orlando Stadium in Soweto tonight (Wednesday) with the Brazilians eager to keep within a touching distance of runaway leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Chiefs utilised Sundowns’ juggling of the domestic programme with that of the CAF Champions League to good effect when Amakhosi beat Cape Town City 3-0 on Sunday to extend the lead at the top.
The Naturena-based club attained this feat on the same weekend coach Pitso Mosimane’s side were doing duty in the continental club competition.
“This [qualification for the Champions League knockout stage] will relieve a little bit on the system so that we can put more on the local league. It is always difficult when racing against well-rested teams. But we cannot be complaining. We are an ambitious club,” said Mosimane shortly after his side secured a Champions League quarterfinal berth with two games to spare.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game, Mosimane said “it’s not a normal game” but his side will “fight for the badge and for the pride of the club”.
“They [Pirates] are doing well. They have a new coach. The teams is scoring goals but it the same players that we know. But we have a good team also.
“It’s gonna be nice [and hopefully] the stadium will be full. I only hope we don’t miss a lot because we can create chances to score. It’s three points [and the] bragging rights.”
Mosimane maintains his rivals “had a nice break”.
“There’s no break for us. What we need to do is to get the players who are injured back. We need a little bit of ammunition. You could see Gaston [Sirino] was not really on top of his game [against USM Alger of Algeria on Saturday]. He’s been out for long. I wanted to give Ricardo [Nascimento] a little bit of a run so that they must start playing. Mauricio [Affonso] is not here… Ali Menza is not here… we’ve been waiting for Phakamani [Mahlambi] for some time. If these guys are back, we can do something in the league and have a very strong team to compete because now it’s going to be three tournaments in seven days,” he said, in reference to the Champions League, the Premiership, and the Nedbank Cup.
“They [Pirates] will be nice and fresh for us but we’ll do what we have to do. It has nothing do with the log. We all want to win it,” Mosimane told reporters during the club’s media open day at Chloorkop on Tuesday.