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Baroka fell for my mind games says Jomo Sono

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The bigger picture at Cosmos though, is a revival of their PSL/NFD promotion-relegation play-off chances

Jomo Sono, coach of Jomo Cosmos during the 2019 Nedbank Cup Jomo Cosmos press conference at PSL Offices, Johannesburg on 23 January 2019. Picture: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Jomo Sono reckons it was his pre-match psychological warfare that ensured they got the better of Baroka FC in the last 32 of the Nedbank Cup at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday.

During the pre-match press conference, the Cosmos coach downplayed his team’s chances of progressing to the last 16 of South Africa’s premier club knockout competition. He reasoned that they stood no chance against a Baroka side that had recently won the Telkom Knockout after they pulled off giant-slaying performances against Mamelodi Sundowns, Wits and Orlando Pirates.

“Yes (I expected that it would be the way it turned out to be). When I said we had no chance on TV, it was mind games, and they fell for it,” Sono (pictured) said after his team’s 1-0 win on Tuesday.

Sono’s troops completely dominated the first half and had the majority of the clear-cut chances in the dying minutes of the game. Striker Inky Masuku could have easily scored a brace if not a hat-trick, but he squandered most of his chances. In the end, his misses did not matter as his tap-in on the half-hour mark proved enough to take his side to the next round.

“He won everything, and he missed a few chances,” Sono said of Masuku. “When we got him from Mbombela United, he played well, but he faded. When we got him for this game, we knew he’d be handful – and in the air he was unbelievable.”

Now, Sono is crossing fingers that tonight’s draw is favourable: “We hope to get an easy draw so that we go up. With the two big boys – Pirates and Sundowns – out, we fancy our chances. Wits are also a problem, but we’ll give it a go.”

The bigger picture at Cosmos though, is a revival of their PSL/NFD promotion-relegation play-off chances. They are currently in 12th spot on the standings and trail NFD leaders Stellenbosch FC by 12 points with 12 games to go.

The win over Baroka has also brought a lot of confidence as it ended a four-game run without a victory.

“This game was a morale- booster, the players will start believing in themselves now,” Sono said. “They’ll believe that they can beat anybody. You’ll see the difference because I didn’t play my normal team. We can lose three games in the NFD, but it’s up to you as a coach and what you say to your players after those losses.”