Pitso Mosimane expects Orlando Pirates to give Mamelodi Sundowns a stiff challenge in Absa Premiership title race
Posted: 4 April 2018 Time: 13:00
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane expects Orlando Pirates to give his side a stiff challenge in the Absa Premiership title race, considering their contrasting fixture schedules.
Sundowns’ April is jam-packed with fixtures every three-to-four days, with a total of eight fixtures scheduled across 28 days.
They have just come through their first – beating Cape Town City in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals, and face their second in just three days against Chippa United tonight.
They then meet Baroka, Bidvest Wits, Golden Arrows, Maritzburg United – back-to-back – and Ajax Cape Town in the next three weeks.
However, Mosimane says this is nothing new for his side, who have become accustomed to the test of character in competing across multiple competitions on the domestic and continental fronts.
“We are not new to this heavy-loaded program. Sometimes, when we feel different, we name it and give it tags – ‘Aluta continua’, you know the story, we call it against all odds,” ‘Jingles’ said.
“You can call it whatever you want. Last year, we did not make it, we lost the league by three points with the same program.
“But year before last we made it with the same program, so the program just tests our characters and makes us a stronger and bigger team in terms of, ‘Can you handle the load?’
“The difficulties is that somewhere, somehow you might be running a race with well-rested teams, who don’t have a heavy program like we have.”
While Sundowns are still in the hunt for the Absa Premiership, Nedbank Cup and CAF Champions League, Mosimane feels main title rivals Pirates have a slight advantage in the final run-in given their sole focus on the league.
He also argues that many of his players, who are often called up for international duty, have more mileage in their legs, while taking a dig at the Buccaneers’ lack of international quality.
“We are used to playing three games in a week. We have players in Bafana who travel all the time, we always give Bafana [our players],” he added.
“It’s the first time we give three or four [for the Zambia four-nations tournament recently]. We usually give seven and they know when they come back we train once or twice and then we have a big game.
“So these guys are experienced, they’ve learnt to play two times and then play a game in Bafana as well, and we’ve been doing that for the last four years.
“When we were running the race with Wits, they were well-rested, playing every seven days. We’re running the race with Pirates, I think they’ve played two games in maybe 17 days if I’m not mistaken,” he said.
“And they play top-eight and they have very few international players – they are well-rested. So they are going to give us a run for our money, they are fresh.”