Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is confident his team can turn things around in their Caf Champions League campaign when they take on Zimbabwe’s Chicken Inn at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Brazilians head into the tie with a deficit to overturn after going down 1-0 a fortnight ago at the Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo. The defeat saw Downs suffer their first defeat in 20 games in all competitions.
According to Mosimane, there were a number of factors which contributed to the team’s inability to return home with a positive result.
“The pitch there, the grass is long,” said Pitso Mosimane, “so we didn’t have the legs. It’s not to say that Chicken Inn were better than us. We controlled the game but we didn’t have the legs, we didn’t have the sharpness we always have.
“They collected the second ball, they were faster on the ball. But this is life.”
Mosimane has prioritised the continental showpiece as one of the trophies he would like to win this year. The last time the Tshwane giants got close to lifting the trophy was back in 2001 when they were beaten 4-1 on aggregate by Egyptian giants Al-Ahly in the final.
“Jingles” is now on a mission to re-write Down’s history books but his campaign got off the wrong foot and he will now be looking to make amends. He reiterated the fact Sundowns were dealt the toughest draw in the preliminary round.
“We played four games in January and then suddenly the next week we play five games and they come thick and fast,” added Mosimane, “and it is not only for us by the way. And we are not making an excuse, but we had a tougher draw than any other team in the Champions League.
“Chicken Inn are a good team, you find the Khama Billiats, the Cuthbert Malajilas, and the Evans Rusikes. We played a strong team.”
Downs’ first-choice goalkeeper Denis Onyango echoed the coach’s assertions that the team will be able to fix their errors and stressed the importance of making it all the way in the continental spectacle.
“We know it is not over yet,” said Onyango. “That was like the first half of the game and now we have to prepare for the other half. We want to win the second leg to be able to progress to the next round of the competition and for that to happen we need to make sure we beat Chicken Inn convincingly.”