Pitso relishing Chiefs clash

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“I like this game because I am struggling to raise the appetite levels of the players from winning the CAF Champions League and their anticipation of the (Fifa) Club World Cup,” said the Brazilians mentor as he offered an explanation for his excitement ahead of hosting Amakhosi at Loftus Stadium.

“I am not a psychologist and I don’t know what to say to them. I am just a football coach and I try my best, but playing Chiefs means the level will rise because of egos, bragging rights and the players will show up a little bit.”

Their status as continental champions has clearly come at a cost - fatigue, the apparent lack of interest in the domestic league, as well as a target on their backs with every opponent they face eager to get one over them.

But Mosimane was convinced that his men relish the more glamorous encounters, especially because a victory will go some way in pushing them away from the foot of the table.

They have been languishing there, second from bottom with five league matches in hand due to their continental commitments - in their three games they have played they have won one, lost one and drawn one.

“You saw us against (crosstown rivals) SuperSport United in the Telkom Knockout,” Mosimane said.

“I am sad we lost that game because we were unbelievable. It has really been a long time since I saw Sundowns play like that. That was different from when we lost to Cape Town City, where we struggled to raise the levels.

“If we perform the same way we did against SuperSport when we play Chiefs, then I can say right now that we can win the league.”

It’s a pretty bold statement, but then again Mosimane, who celebrates four years at the club next month even though it has been reported that he is yet to agree to a contract extension, knows this team inside out.

In his time at Sundowns, he has twice won the championship, the Telkom Knockout title, the Nedbank Cup and Champions League - the most prestigious of all the trophies.

“If we just improve the finishing and the decision-making right at the end, we should be able to play Champions League football (in 2018),” he said.

Sundowns will also be boosted by the return of striker Leonardo Castro following an ankle injury that has kept him out for nearly three months, forcing him to miss the Champions League final and several key matches for the Brazilians.

But Mosimane said it was important to ease him back into action, in spite of the club’s obvious lack of firepower upfront and the fact they are coming up against a Chiefs side that is winless in three matches.

“Maybe he will get 20 minutes, nothing more,” Mosimane said.

“As much as you want the results and want to win the game, you have to control it so that he doesn’t get a recurring injury.

“We also have a lot of our international players coming back from playing for their countries either tired or injured. We had five players in the Bafana team and Tebogo Langerman was withdrawn because he pulled a hamstring.

“I also don’t understand why Tiyani Mabunda played two matches (against Senegal and Mozambique) for the entire 90 minutes. I am happy I don’t have to write a letter to Safa complaining because their doctor admitted that they are overloading the players, hence they cut shot their training sessions.”

Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@Superjourno

The Star

Original source: Pitso relishing Chiefs clash

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