The battle started before the Brazilians even entered Essipong Stadium at 4pm local time, 6pm South African time, for the captain’s run.
Security at the gate said that the Brazilians’ time was up, as they should have trained from 3-4pm with the hosts training from 4-5pm in a field that doesn’t have floodlights which makes training late impossible.
But that’s not the information Sundowns were told, which led to the showdown. When Sundowns finally made their way into the stadium, Medeama were in the stands and Sundowns’ training session was being recorded which led to a heated argument on who should be here and who shouldn’t.
An incensed Pitso Mosimane fought that battle for Sundowns, while the players - nonchalantly - went about their business as if this was a regular occurrence.
When Mosimane cooled down, he could afford a smile when speaking about this episode. “This for me isn’t a problem, I like it,” Mosimane said.
“It strengthens your team. You become stronger. When you are home, there is nothing like this. It trains us, so that in the years to come when we encounter something like this, than we say, ‘ah we have seen this before’. We know how to rise above it. I like this to happen because you must learn the hard way.
”When you train hard and endure obstacles before the game, then the match becomes easy. When things are easy, you struggle when you’re faced with obstacles. I want to play in the group so that I know how to play there next year. So that is how I am going to plan to compete in the league that we must defend and do well in the Champions League. Progress is one step at a time. Last year we lost in the first round, this year in the second round and next year we must at least be in the group stage.”
The Brazilians arrived with a strong team even though they won the first leg 3-1 and they must play Platinum Stars on Saturday in the last match of the season where they will be crowned champions.
Mosimane stressed the need to win the league in style, which could take a lot from the club with Dikwena fighting for a top three finish which would guarantee them a place in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup.
Sundowns could play that match just after arriving from Ghana on Friday morning if they don’t get to leave Ghana early tonight. But that’s way ahead, what’s here is the match against Medeama where a win will put Sundowns in the group stage.
It will also mean that Sundowns will play just one round next year to get into the expanded CAF Champions League as they would miss the preliminary round.
“The thing is that it’s not just about this game,” Mosimane said. “It’s about being seeded for next year because there are more groups, not to play in the preliminary round.
Above that is that you aren’t given big boys in the draw because the big boys are seeded. That’s why teams like (AC) Leopards couldn’t get TP Mazembe in the first round because they’re seeded.”
Njabulo Ngidi is in Ghana courtesy of MultiChoice
Original source: Downs will use 'dirty tricks' as motivation