Sirino must step up at Sundowns, insists coach Mosimane
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
EXPERIMENTATION: Benni McCarthy, Head Coach of Cape Town City made five changes in the second half and changed the formation as well.