Why Downs can win five games in a row

Foot­ball fans are in for an en­ter­tain­ing end to the sea­son as Chiefs, Brazil­ians vie for ti­tle

Pretoria News - - SPORT - BONGINKOSI NDADANE

PITSO Mosi­mane was at pains to ex­plain just why Mamelodi Sun­downs al­ways seem to have a slow start to the PSL sea­son only to fin­ish with a bang.

The best ex­pla­na­tion that Mosi­mane could of­fer on the phe­nom­e­non was that be­cause they fin­ish the sea­son later than most teams, due to their Cham­pi­ons League com­mit­ments be­fore the Caf cal­en­dar was changed, they start pre-sea­son later than those teams so they are still not at their peak when the sea­son starts com­pared to their opponents whose fit­ness lev­els are higher than theirs. But once Sun­downs get go­ing, they are un­stop­pable – espe­cially to­wards the end of the sea­son.

That’s why Mosi­mane could say this with con­fi­dence: “We can go five (wins) in a row (to­wards the end of the sea­son), that I can guar­an­tee you. But let’s see, this thing (league ti­tle race) can be in­ter­est­ing,” Mosi­mane said.

Sun­downs’ strength in the fi­nal stretch was ev­i­dent last sea­son when they went toe to toe with Or­lando Pi­rates in the fight for the cham­pi­onship. The Buc­ca­neers were in the driver’s seat. Had they won their last five games they would of been cham­pi­ons, but they slipped up against Cape Town City in their penul­ti­mate game. Sun­downs won all their games and they were crowned cham­pi­ons for a record ninth time in the PSL-era.

The Brazil­ians’ elim­i­na­tion from the Cham­pi­ons League and Kaizer Chiefs’ slip-up against AmaZulu will make for an in­ter­est­ing bat­tle in the ti­tle race. Chiefs are seven points ahead of Sun­downs who have played two games less. The two teams also have to play against each other on 15 April in what will be a mouth-wa­ter­ing clash.

The dis­ap­point­ment of be­ing elim­i­nated in the Cham­pi­ons League will in­spire Sun­downs to fight for a top-two fin­ish which would re­turn them to con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball. What the club has done well is bounce back from dis­ap­point­ment un­der Mosi­mane. When they were elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League in 2016, and failed to progress from the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup play­offs, Sun­downs bounced back to win the Cham­pi­ons League when they were re-in­stated.

What Mosi­mane does well is make Sun­downs be­lieve that they are fight­ing against the world, mo­ti­vat­ing his play­ers to give their all to beat the “sys­tem”. His com­ments about Chiefs “ben­e­fit­ing” was a cal­cu­lated move to put a mag­ni­fy­ing glass on ref­er­ees and also en­sure that they think twice about mak­ing big calls in Chiefs’ favour – who are Sun­downs’ big­gest threat in their fight to re­tain the league ti­tle. Al Ahly did the same thing fol­low­ing the ap­point­ment of the no-non­sense Bakary Papa Gas­sama as ref­eree of the sec­ond leg cash in the quar­ter-fi­nals. The Gam­bian was clearly af­fected by that ac­tion as he was too le­nient on the Egyp­tians last week­end.

Sun­downs’ other mo­ti­va­tion is to re­turn to Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball, to do that they must fin­ish ei­ther first or sec­ond. The club have con­sis­tently fin­ished in the top two since 2015, and they will fight hard to achieve that and re­turn to a tour­na­ment where they have un­fin­ished busi­ness. Foot­ball fans must buckle up, we are in for an en­ter­tain­ing race to the end of the sea­son.

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DEAN EL­GAR has scored over 300 runs in the One-Day Cup this sea­son.

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