Downs, Bucs must up the pace

The Mercury - - SPORT - SOC­CER WRITER

OR­LANDO PI­RATES and Mamelodi Sun­downs’ best qual­ity is also their weak­ness.

If they don’t work on it, they will be pun­ished in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League where there is lit­tle room for er­ror, un­like in the PSL where they ruled the roost last sea­son.

The Buc­ca­neers and the Brazil­ians tend to start slow, al­low­ing their op­po­nents to get a head start be­fore re­spond­ing strongly.

Pi­rates had a stut­ter­ing start to their league cam­paign last sea­son but once they clicked, they were a well-oiled ma­chine that chal­lenged Sun­downs for the PSL ti­tle a sea­son after they were al­most rel­e­gated.

The Brazil­ians also have a sim­i­lar prob­lem, which is why they tend to strug­gle in the MTN8 be­cause as coach Pitso Mosi­mane puts it, “they’re still find­ing their feet at that time be­cause the MTN8 is a ‘pre-sea­son’ tour­na­ment”.

These two South African gi­ants, who are fly­ing SA’s flag in Africa’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion, had a slow start to their Cham­pi­ons League cam­paigns over the week­end. Pi­rates had a bet­ter start than Sun­downs. The Buc­ca­neers re­turned from Zim­babwe with a point after play­ing to a goal­less draw with FC Plat­inum on Satur­day.

It was a pre­cious point since all four teams in Group B are on a point after the first round of matches. Esper­ance and Horoya played to a 1-1 draw on Fri­day.

The Buc­ca­neers now have to col­lect max­i­mum points against last sea­son’s quar­ter-fi­nal­ists Horoya.

The Guinean team will be mak­ing their third trip to SA in three years. Last year they were in the same group with Sun­downs and two years ago they were grouped with Su­perS­port United in the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

Their pedi­gree on the con­ti­nent has im­proved, but they aren’t a force just yet. Pi­rates’ at­tack should see them col­lect max­i­mum points, es­pe­cially if they take the game to Horoya from the first whis­tle.

The Brazil­ians also have to col­lect max­i­mum points this Satur­day against 2017 Cham­pi­ons League win­ners Wy­dad Casablanca.

This tough con­test will bring the best out of Sun­downs who strug­gle against min­nows on the con­ti­nent, but hold their own against Africa’s big boys. Sun­downs have to shift that men­tal ap­proach if they are to re­turn to the heights they reached when they con­quered the con­ti­nent in 2016.

But that won’t hap­pen if they are lethar­gic against min­nows. Sun­downs have strug­gled to han­dle the at­ten­tion they re­ceive as for­mer Cham­pi­ons League win­ners.

SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU BackpagePix |

MI­LUTIN SRE­DO­JE­VIC’S team will have to col­lect max­i­mum points against last sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nal­ists Horoya.

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