Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is seemingly cracking under the pressure of expectation ahead of their second leg preliminary round Caf Champions League clash with Chicken Inn, who gave the South African Premier Soccer League giants a rude awakening with that 1-0 win in the first leg.
BY Fortune Mbele
The South African top-flight league log leaders didn’t expect that their 19-match unbeaten run would be ended by Chicken Inn, a club only making its debut in the continent’s premier club competition.
With the second leg coming this weekend, Mosimane conceded his side will need to up their game if they are to qualify and acknowledged the damage that the hither to unheralded Chicken Inn can cause.
Mosimane has been moaning about the unkind fixtures pile-up which will see his side take on Mpumalanga Black Aces tonight ahead of the Chicken Inn match on Saturday night.
Sundowns played Golden Arrows at the weekend in a match that ended in a goalless draw.
“I said the Orlando Pirates game is a thorn in the flesh. It should have been played in January. We played four games in January and suddenly we played five games and they are coming thick and fast. It’s not only for us by the way of making excuses, but we had a tough draw in the Champions League,” Mosimane told the South African media.
Mosimane concedes that the Joey Antipas-coached team is a good side. It seems, however, that the Gamecocks proved better than the flamboyant South African side anticipated.
“Chicken Inn is a good team. You find Khamas, Malajilas, Rusikes who are in there. We didn’t play Highlanders, we played a really strong team. Now we have Aces before Chicken Inn. We need the legs for Chicken Inn, so I don’t know … it’s difficult,” Mosimane told Kickoff on Monday.
Chicken Inn fly out to South Africa this afternoon for the match that will be played at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
Clemence Matawu has made it into the 18-man squad, replacing Canaan Nkomo, which is the only change to the squad that beat Sundowns at BF on February 13.
Antipas anticipates a tough match, but remains upbeat about his team’s chances.
“Hopefully, we will come out with a positive result. Sundowns will be baying for our blood because they also want to progress,” Antipas said. “We are playing at their favourite hunting ground and we know it will be a difficult task for us. We have been trying to prepare our guys psychologically, physically and mentally.
The disadvantage we have is we are playing under lights. We have not played under lights. Our clubs here don’t play under lights. One thing I can say is the boys are in good spirits and ready to go out and die for the club. For us to get a positive result, we have to come up with a great performance as in the first leg. It will be difficult, but in football anything can happen,” Antipas said.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Pride Zendera
Defenders: Passmore Bernard, Lawrence Mhlanga, Devine Lunga, Moses Jackson, Ben Nyahunzvi
Midfielder: Danny Phiri, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Clemence Matawu, Thabani Goredema, Brian Juru, Physwell Madhazi, George Majika, Edmore Chirambadare
Strikers: Obadiah Tarumbwa, Michelle Katsvairo, Moses Demera