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Downs know how to grind out results

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“We always struggle when we come here. The last time we were here, we drew”

Sundowns players surround goalkeeper Denis Onyango after edging out Chippa United. Picture: Deryck Foster BackpagePix

MAMELODI Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has challenged his team to get victories by any means necessary, without paying too much attention to how it looks, as they work on getting back to their best.

The PSL champions were far from their best last season, but they still did enough to win the league title and reach the semi-finals of the Caf Champions League. The team that was under construction last season isn’t complete yet as Mosimane tries to build another dynasty that could emulate the class of 2016 that won the league with a record number of points (71) as well as the Champions League.

Even though they were far from being at their best, they still had enough to beat Chippa United on Sunday to reach the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout where they will take on Golden Arrows in Durban. But before that, they have to take on Baroka FC in the league tomorrow at Peter Mokaba Stadium.

“Sundowns always responds to emotions,” Mosimane said.

“I think that the game against Baroka will be much better even though the win against Chippa wasn’t 5-0 like our victory over AmaZulu. It was a tough game. I think that my players will come back after the loss to Kaizer Chiefs. We have to make changes, from PE to Polokwane in a couple of days, it’s a tough one.

“The game in Polokwane is a tough game for us because we have a game in hand that we’ve got to win. That one, we must hustle and make sure that we win. It’s not important how you win it, and that you were playing the Sundowns’ way. When you have Themba Zwane, Phakamani (Mahlambi) and (Gaston) Sirino out, it becomes challenging.

“You have to hustle and grind (out) the result. We can also play quietly and win a match. We aren’t a team that’s always playing beautiful football. We know how to grind (out) a result, we have done that in the Champions League.”

The 2016 Caf Coach of the Year had to earn his salary against Chippa and Mosimane wasn’t too surprised at seeing his team outplayed by Chippa.

“We always struggle when we come here. The last time we were here, we drew,” Mosimane said.

“They equalised in the 93rd minute and it was always on the edge. We have never had a free-flowing game here. They are a good team, a strong team.”

Sundowns looked flat in the first half and they were lucky to get something out of the match. The situation was so tense that Mosimane couldn’t even watch the penalty shoot-out.

He left the pitch and only came back when Sundowns won. But he had plenty to say to his players at half-time, firing them up to put on a fight.

“I just told them that they have to go for it,” Mosimane said.

“We put a little bit of pressure, we risked a little bit and played (Hlompho) Kekana up front, leaving (Tiyani) Mabunda alone in the midfield. Chippa controlled the midfield in the first half to be honest. I did my job, to make sure that we deal with the midfield. I played a three-man midfield.

“I put Vila (Sibusiso Vilakazi), Kekana and Mabunda as the three-man midfield because in the first half Vila was more on the right.

“That’s what we did, but when you do that you lose power up front. I always like to play with two strikers, but after that change we had to play with one and we are trailing. But you have to make some decision.

“Tactically, we got it right and we controlled the midfield after.”