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