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Pitso Mosimane admits Club World Cup, Super Cup, African awards distractions for Sundowns

Posted: 1 December 2016 Time: 16:07

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane admits that with all the hype surrounding his players’ successes and a trip to Japan coming, their heads have all been turned away from domestic duties.

Sundowns head off to Asia to become the first club to represent South Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup, and following their CAF Champions League success, also have players in line for various awards.

Although Mosimane runs a tight ship and expects professionalism from his squad, he knows they are human – the coach himself too – and at the moment they are all over the place about where they need to focus.

One thing is clear to Mosimane – Sundowns have to play at the Club World Cup and in the CAF Super Cup to represent their brand and the nation; for sporting, commercial and historical reasons.

Sundowns appeared focused and well-drilled against Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday night, played well and had their chances to win, but Mosimane explains that despite their best preparations, their minds are certainly elsewhere.

READ: Pitso praises Menzo's tactical nous

“It’s unbelievable what’s happening in the team [in terms of excitement about Japan]. That’s why I told the boys you’ve got to win the Champions League and then you’ll understand where we are and what you’ve achieved,” he told reporters after the 2-0 defeat at Cape Town Stadium.

“Yesterday [Tuesday] some of the teams who have qualified for the Champions League next year were revealed, and the boys were saying ‘oh Al Ahly is still there, Zamalek is not there, Zesco is not there’ and all that … what is that talk? I though they’d talk about the game tonight [against Ajax].

“It’s unbelievable. They are all, four out of five players lining up to win African Player of the Year [Based in Africa], four of them were just on PSL player of the year, goalkeeper of the year, Thabo [Nthethe] defender of the year, [Hlompho] Kekana was on the midfielder of the year, Khama [Billiat] … I mean, they are in another space.

READ: Pitso not worried about league chances

“Kekana, the Puskas goal [FIFA Goal of the Year], we needed Thulani [Thuswa, Sundowns’ media officer] to handle interviews from radio stations trying to speak to the players on the day of a match … I need to give them that space, because they deserve it. This might never happen again.”

Mosimane also admitted that the financial incentives of playing in international tournaments make it a no-brainer that they simply take a front seat to PSL competitions.

“Super Cup against Mazembe [in February next year], it’s a big game for us. Just one match, we can put the Telkom [Knockout] and the Nedbank [Cup] money and whatever together … one match [and we get more than the domestic cup prize money put together],” he added, to a round of laughter from gathered journalists.

“So you need to understand, the boys are thinking differently. It’s totally, totally in another space. And we’re human beings, I’m also a human being, I’m focusing there, I’m looking there.”

It should be noted, though, that the winner of the 2017 CAF Super Cup will receive USD 100 000, which at the current exchange rate is R1.4-million; only more than domestic cup prize money if the club were to be eliminated in the early rounds of those competitions.

However, just for landing safely in Japan for their Club World Cup quarter-final, Sundowns will already be guaranteed USD 1-million (R14-million). If we are allowed to dream even bigger and they win that competition, it's USD 5-million (R70-million) at today's Dollar-Rand exchange rate.

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