Sirino must step up at Sun­downs, in­sists coach Mosi­mane

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - NJABULO NGIDI

MAMELODI SUN­DOWNS’ coach Pitso Mosi­mane set Gas­ton Sirino a big chal­lenge after the Uruguayan came out of his shell to pro­duce his best per­for­mance in the colours of the Brazil­ians.

Sirino was mag­i­cal in the 2-1 win over AS Togo-Port in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League at Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium on Fri­day. The 27-year-old in­spired Sun­downs to their first win in the group stage of the Cham­pi­ons League by scor­ing one goal and as­sist­ing the other.

“I have been wait­ing for this per­for­mance,” Mosi­mane said. “It was his kind of a game. He turned it on from the first minute.

“He is get­ting more con­fi­dent and has ad­justed to the way we play. He car­ried the team. He did that prob­a­bly be­cause the other two guys (Khama Bil­liat and Percy Tau) weren’t around. We have been wait­ing for some­body to carry the team when Percy and Khama aren’t around.

“What I am happy about is the goal he scored. He is start­ing to score and at times he passes too much when he can score…He must carry the team now. It’s his chance. That’s why we brought him here. This is the per­for­mance I went to see in Bo­livia. He is ca­pa­ble of this and more. It’s good for him to give us con­fi­dence and hope.”

Mosi­mane joked with the AS Togo-Port coach that can he do him a favour by beat­ing Horoya on Au­gust 17. The Brazil­ians will take on the reign­ing cham­pi­ons Wy­dad Casablanca in Morocco on the same day and then end the group stages against Horoya in At­teridgeville. Mosi­mane views the Guinea side as their big­gest threat in the fight to reach the quar­ter­fi­nals as he has con­ceded that Wy­dad will likely top Group C. “What I am not happy about is the goal we con­ceded in the last minute (against AS Togo-Port),” Mosi­mane said. “It looks like it’s be­com­ing a trend. In Horoya we were win­ning 2-1 and they scored with six min­utes re­main­ing. Against Kaizer Chiefs they scored with a minute left. It shows that we lose con­cen­tra­tion at crit­i­cal times. I have to work on that. It’s men­tal some­times.”

Sun­downs will start their Premier­ship ti­tle de­fence on Satur­day at Lof­tus Sta­dium with a ti­tanic bat­tle against Chiefs. This will be a tricky sea­son for Sun­downs as they not only have to bal­ance their do­mes­tic am­bi­tions with this Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign but they will also re­turn to con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball later this year in a con­gested cal­en­dar which will see the con­ti­nent’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion run for six months next sea­son.

“We are not ready, let’s be hon­est,” Mosi­mane said. “We are only on week four of our pro­gramme. We take time. If you win on week four, it’s much bet­ter and it shows you’re on the right path. We’ll get bet­ter with time. We are pre­par­ing for the marathon. You can’t just pre­pare a team and then it’s ready now and when the Cham­pi­ons League starts in De­cem­ber you’re tired. We are build­ing mo­men­tum.” DOES any­one re­mem­ber what hap­pened in the last round of Su­per Rugby? Do they still call it that? Does any­one still care?

Too much of a good thing, as it turns out, is not re­ally a good thing. And, let us be clear; it used to be amaz­ing. There used to be a time when Satur­day morn­ings were the pre­serve of rugby les­sons from New Zealand, and then af­ter­noons were for trans­fer­ring those morn­ing skills onto the fields of dreams.

Those days were a long time ago. Way back when we were school­boys, and walls of won­der were plas­tered with Chris­tian Cul­lens and An­dré Sny­mans at full tilt. Su­per Rugby was the coolest thing out there, south­ern hemi­sphere’s an­swer to the Cham­pi­ons League.

How the world has changed since then. Technology has ar­rived, and ev­ery­thing has be­come bet­ter, faster, and our mem­o­ries and at­ten­tion spans far more fleet­ing. It didn’t mat­ter back in the 2000s how long the com­pe­ti­tion ran, be­cause there were few bet­ter op­tions to turn our heads.

In­ter­na­tional rugby was a step up, and the end of year tours a nice change of at­mos­phere, be­fore we looked for­ward to early Fe­bru­ary and balmy evenings at the Shark Tank. How times have changed, and yet, the an­nual recipe has banked on sen­ti­ment to keep it go­ing. It truly has be­come as ex­cit­ing as last Christ­mas’s socks.

Su­per Rugby now feels like it drags on for the en­tire year, with brief mer­cies af­forded for June in­ter­na­tion­als and fam­ily func­tions. If we as ob­servers are over it, spare a thought for the play­ers, who start pre­par­ing for it as soon as the pre­vi­ous cam­paign is over. You

BACKPAGEPIX

EX­PER­I­MEN­TA­TION: Benni McCarthy, Head Coach of Cape Town City made five changes in the sec­ond half and changed the for­ma­tion as well.

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