Jingles’ juggling act

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The Brazilians have first to honour their domestic league commitments against Free State Stars at Loftus Versfeld (3.30pm) ahead of representing Africa in Japan.

Competing on two fronts has affected Sundowns’ mentally, having to juggle playing against some of the best sides on the continent and then returning to face clubs with ambition and support base that don’t go beyond the borders of South African.

That has seen the side slip up against Maritzburg United to get a point with a B-team before losing to Cape Town City after being crowned African champions.

Their last Absa Premiership loss to Ajax Cape Town came from a team that wanted it more, planned thoroughly for Sundowns and were better on the day.

They should expect the same thing against Giovanni Solinas’ Ea Lla Koto.

“This isn’t a nice game for us because we are already in Japan,” Sundowns coach Mosimane said.

“I will try to use the game as a good send-off to our supporters. Maybe that will lift the temperament, mentality and attitude of the players to say that we must live the right way.”

Getting Sundowns in the right space mentally is the only thing Mosimane and his technical team have had to worry about in terms of getting the team ready after they were crowned African champions.

After that, the side only had one squad to work with. Before they had one group of players registered for the CAF Champions League and those who weren’t.

That stunted the progress of new signings like Thapelo Morena, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Lucky Mohomi, Yannick Zakri and Ricardo Nascimento because they had to deal with a programme that had many pauses while their teammates conquered the continent.

But that phase unconsciously prepared Mosimane for the final stretch of the league race that will see Sundowns compete for the Premiership, Nedbank Cup and start of their Champions League defence.

“Things are better now,” Mosimane said.

“I didn’t think that our team would gel this soon. Gelling two teams into one isn’t easy. I am happy with how we have done that.

“In the last four games, I could use different players. (Themba) Zwane was popping up. Anthony (Laffor) was making the starting line-up more than before. Vilakazi was playing a lot. Percy Tau came up a little bit, so the CBD’ (Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly) wasn’t there.

“We scored eight goals in the last three games. It has been beautiful to see. That’s where I wanted the team to be, coming up nicely as a unit so that when you start the Champions League again next year you are ready.

“By the time the Champions League starts you will have the Nedbank Cup and the league. So which team plays where? I am happy with the group of players who have been playing. That’s why I started with them against Ajax.

“I kept the CBD out because they had won the last three games (before the Ajax match) and they scored 10 goals in those matches. They had done exceptionally well. Some of the people weren’t happy, saying you have forgotten the CBD. But what’s on the pitch is what works. I must go with that.”

Saturday: Platinum Stars v Polokwane City, Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, 3.30pm; Chippa United v Kaizer Chiefs, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 6pm; Orlando Pirates v Highlands Park, Orlando Stadium, 8.15pm; Ajax Cape Town v Golden Arrows, Athlone Stadium, 8.15pm

Saturday Star

Original source: Jingles' juggling act

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