The Downs tactician hailed his tactical acumen and experience as having carried the evening for his side
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has credited their danger from crosses into the box as well as their Caf Champions League experience as the key reasons why the Brazilians were able to defeat Kaizer Chiefs in Thursday’s Premier Soccer League top-of-the-table clash at the Orlando Stadium.
Mosimane’s side beat Chiefs 1-0 courtesy of Gaston Sirino’s first-half strike and drew level on points with Amakhosi although they still come short on goal difference.
It was a crucial confrontation which could still be a major turning point in the PSL title race as both teams each have three games remaining.
After claiming the 2016 Caf Champions League title, Downs have established themselves as one of Africa’s top teams, and Mosimane says their experience on the continent gave them an edge over Chiefs.
“We are not on top of the log,” Mosimane told SuperSport TV. “[Kaizer Chiefs] are still there, so these guys have got points and the [goal difference]. So now we have to work on the goals, which is still difficult. So it’s still in their hands and not our hands.
“[The PSL title is] not decided because if you get too excited and you don’t understand how to win the championship. You will think ‘oh Polokwane will win, oh Baroka would win.’ It’s not the case, but the Champions League experience helped us today and we managed to sustain [Chiefs’ pressure]. This was a Champions League game.”
Sundowns had to bat away some incessant pressure from Chiefs for the better part of the second half as the log leaders searched for an equaliser.
Amakhosi resorted to long balls into the box as they sought to break Sundowns’ resistance, with Chiefs central defender Eric Mathoho moving upfield as a striker.
“It was two different halves. We made it difficult for ourselves. It was tough for us. I think Anele [Ngcongca] should have scored or crossed the ball there and Gaston faced the goalkeeper but he didn’t know what to do,” Mosimane said.
“Those two moments, those are goals, that’s where we made it difficult, but we survived, we responded to what the question was,” the experienced coach continued. “And what was the question? To launch, they always launched the balls inside there.
“So if the ball is launched, and they put Mathoho in there, and if you close the sides, because there were crosses from the sides, it’s on and [Anthony] Akumu in the midfield can head the ball and also [Yagan] Sasman will launch it. So we managed to deal with their strengths which are aerial balls that need to be launched, balls crossed, corner kicks that they have been traumatising the whole league with. We dealt with them and that’s it, nothing else.”
Mosimane also credited his tactical substitutions as having helped Sundowns contain Chiefs.
“We take out Zwane and Sirino. Sirino got a little bit tired and you could see there is not a game for Sirino, and Themba Zwane also wants to play football. So what we did, we put Lebo [Maboe] and Phakamani [Mahlambi] for speed and it worked well, Lebo nearly scored.
“You have to focus on what’s the question is. The question is we are launching balls into you box if you are playing diagonal balls we allow set pieces and freekicks. If you deal with them, you are 80 percent okay.”
“You don’t want to face those teams,” Mosimane said. “Those teams where they are on the log you don’t want to play them.
“If you want to know about Polokwane City you should watch their game against Kaizer Chiefs,” he concluded. “Our programme is tough.”