Pitso wants his Downs to de­liver

Top spot in their group is still up for grabs as Mosi­mane’s men face Vita

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO

HI S TEAM’S spot in the quar­ter-fi­nals al­ready con­firmed, Pitso Mosi­mane is lead­ing Mamelodi Sun­downs into their fi­nal CAF Cham­pi­ons League Group A match against AS Vita Club as driven as he was when the com­pe­ti­tion started.

Such is the Brazil­ians coach’s love for suc­cess.

Not even the fact that they can only top the ta­ble if the re­sult in the match goes their way could di­min­ish Mosi­mane’s de­sire to lead his team to vic­tory on Sun­day.

“Of course I’d like us to get first place,” Africa’s reign­ing Coach of he Year said yes­ter­day after the club’s train­ing ses­sion in Chloorkop “When you do (fin­ish) first it means we were the best in our group. But un­for­tu­nately it is not in our hands.”

Sun­downs, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons of the con­ti­nent’s premier knock­out com­pe­ti­tion, are cur­rently in se­cond spot on eight points – one be­hind Esper­ance.

They can­not be over­taken by any of Vita and St Ge­orge though and will thus con­test the quar­ter-fi­nals.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it is not in our hands be­cause of the game we lost against Esper­ance. It is com­ing back to haunt us,” he said, be­fore quickly adding, “But the big­ger pic­ture is that we qual­i­fied (for the quar­ter-fi­nals). And we qual­i­fied with a game in hand.”

It is an achieve­ment Mosi­mane is clearly proud of and he didn’t hide it.

“We needed to get our in­tegrity back, and we did. People were saying that these guys qual­i­fied via the back­door (Sun­downs played in the kn­cok­out last year after Vita were kicked out for field­ing an in­el­i­gi­ble player). And Vita were saying we took their cup, so we went to Kin­shasa and you guys know what hap­pened, in their back­yard,” he said, in ref­er­ence to their 3-1 first leg de­feat of the Con­golese.

“So, this story of back­door is over. Now we are in the last eight and we did so with one game in hand. That’s in­tegrity and I was prais­ing the play­ers this morn­ing.”

That game in hand is on Sun­day and with his team hav­ing scored a good win away at Ethiopia’s St Ge­orge, Mosi­mane is con­fi­dent they can fi­nally get that seem­ingly elu­sive win at home, Sun­downs hav­ing lost to Eseper­ance and drawn with St Ge­orge.

With the quar­ter-fi­nals loom­ing though Mosi­mane says Sun­downs will have to box clever.

He will thus have to bal­ance the need to win with the de­sire to en­sure he has a strong squad go­ing into the knock­out phase.

“At least we are safe now, but we are play­ing for the badge and in­tegrity. And we’ve said the people must come through so we will have to put out a strong squad. But we also have to be care­ful be­cause we have yel­low cards, which will fade after this round. But if any­one gets a se­cond yel­low then they will be out. So we have to be smart about our ap­proach be­cause we still want to fin­ish top. What if St Ge­orge get a draw in Tu­nisia (against Esper­ance) like they did here?”

The clash with Vita is at the Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium and kicks off at 7pm. PITSO MOSI­MANE

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