Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has described his side’s season as “fantastic”, even though the Tshwane side ended the season in second spot on the final league standings.
Mosimane said that the Brazilians had won the “Grand Slams” of African football in the past season, referring to the Confederation of African Football Champions League and the CAF Super Cup, this in a season of heavy traveling and being in transit for long periods.
”We played two years of soccer without a break, and participated in the Champions League four years in a row,” he said.
Mosimane was looking back at the past season.
“First I want to congratulate the boys for showing a positive attitude throughout. They put their bodies on the line for the team, and did everything to win because they know that Sundowns is an ambitious club that wants to win trophies and they know the theme,” added the coach.
“They really did exceptionally well.”
He also congratulated the Mamelodi Sundowns fans. “Let me also congratulate the yellow nation,” the coach said. “The mentality has changed”
He pointed out that in the past they would have thrown vuvuzelas when the team lost and be very angry.”
“Against Baroka, they supported the team throughout and sang even after the game had ended in a draw.
The coach went on to thank the Board of Mamelodi Sundowns and the President for “entrusting us with this responsibility. “They supported us throughout, no stress and no pressure.”
He heaped praise on the technical team for the manner they managed the team when they had to play three games a week, and, once, four games in six days. “Manqoba (Mnqithi ) Rhulani Mokoena and them, they did a splendid job, including the work done by the goalkeeper coach.”
” We went two years in a row without a break. It was thanks to good match management, and the work of the medical staff and Karabo.”
“We went to Japan and played in temperatures of minus four, and in a different time zone, and when we came back we had to play catch up with the rest of the teams in the league.”
He pointed out that while other teams had taken a break his team was still at it. On Friday, he said, his boys take on ES Tunis in another Champions League clash. “Other players could be playing golf or on the beach taking selfies,” he quipped.
“We know where we are going, and we are wiser for the experience from past campaigns. We need to win and get up to seven points. We are both on four points right now, and we need to take three points at home, but at a minimum we need to take at least four points from them, and as they still have to go to the DRC to play Vita, it will not be easy for them. The rest of the teams in the group will cancel each other out. We went to Kinshasha and played a team which had not lost in a Champions League match at home for 30 years and scored three goals.”
He praised Denis Onyango for wining the CAF African Player of the Year based on the continent Award, and Khama Billiat for coming second. Yannick Zakri had also been nominated, but had not joined Sundowns. “I was voted CAF coach of the Year, the club won Team of the Year, so what more could one ask for? We would be ungrateful to demand more, and might suggest we don’t cherish these achievements,” Mosimane said.
“Above all, we must be proud of our achievements. We won the Champions League and Super Cup, and gained valuable experience playing in the FIFA Club World Cup. We can’t win everything and our supporters have accepted this. It can’t be a bad season and they accompanied the team to various countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Japan. Life has been good for them”.
Asked about his vision for next season, Mosimane said that the club is currently still playing in the Champions League, and they would once more go for the Grand Slam titles.
Asked about his team’s prospects to regain the league title, he gave a conspiratorial smile and said: “We will fetch the trophy. We know the address. It’s just off the highway.”
“You ask me next season whether we want to win the Champions League or Super Cup, the answer is yes.”
The coach said that he would definitely strengthen the team, as it was clear late in the season that some did not have the legs any more, but fought on, once more thanks to the technical and medical team’s match management. We know we can do be better, Mosimane said.
He once more congratulated Bidvest Wits and coach Gavin Hunt. “Wits have done well. I was rooting for Gavin Hunt for the Bafana Bafana coaching job, without being disrespectful to Stuart Baxter, he added.
Sundowns take on ES Tunis on Friday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville in their third Champions League fixture, having won one and drawn one.