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Pitso looks north

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Mosimane believes that if they get a natural No 9 during the pre-season, they’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with the North Africans

BIGGER PLANS: Pitso Mosimane, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns is happy enough with domestic success, but he wants his team to dominate the continent. Picture: Samuel Shivambu BackpagePix

Pitso Mosimane, the fuel behind Mamelodi Sundowns’ drive in domestic and continental football in the last six years, believes that next season their primary focus will be about their resurgence against North African teams in the coveted Caf Champions League.

Following their triumph and continental glory in 2016, Sundowns has had roller-coaster stints in the coveted pan-African competition, especially against North Africans, Wydad Casablanca. In 2017, they crashed out in the quarter-finals following a defeat to Casablanca, from Morocco, while last year they were at their lowest as they failed to reach the knockout stages.

In this season’s edition, Casablanca came back to halt Sundowns’ aspirations of adding a second star over their crest, defeating them by a slender 2-1 in the two-legged semi-finals.

Rewind back to 2016; the Brazilians won their first Caf Champions title at the fate of Egyptian giants Zamalek FC, and this season Mosimane appeared to have mastered the North Africans – humiliating African Team of the Century Al Ahly SC by 5-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. But the sucker punch by Casablanca showed Mosimane that there are a few screws that they need to tighten to fully match the North African contingent.

“I know that they respect us because we’ve been there all the time,” said the newly-crowned Premiership Coach of the Season. “I, together with my players, understand North African football but we need to master – and that’s something different compared to understanding. Wydad and Esperance have mastered.

“We are not convincing against them and that’s where we need to top up a little bit.”

Toe-to-toe

Mosimane believes that if they get a natural No 9 during the pre-season, they’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with the North Africans.

Jeremy Brockie, who was tipped to continue with his African scoring spree when he was signed from SuperSport United, whom he had inspired to the final of the Caf Confederations Cup two seasons ago, has found the going tough in Chloorkop.

Liverpool Academy-trained Toni Silva didn’t even finish a season with the club, while Ali Meza has battled with injuries.

With Silva having already seen the exit door, Brockie and Meza are likely going to follow suit, and pave way for some fresh blood.

“We need a good striker. A stronger one and convincing – someone who’ll score 10-12 goals,” said Mosimane.

“We’ll keep the players that we have but of course, we’ve got to reduce. There are a lot of players that we’ve got to give space to leave.

“We need to strengthen a little bit, but we must sign properly and not players that win you the Premier league – because we’ve already done that. We need a player that will take us to the final and win us the Champions League.”

Argentinian midfielder-cum-striker Emiliano Tade, who joined the Brazilians during the mid-season transfer window, is expected to come to the fore for his team during the initial stages of the Champions League next season. Tade has led New Zealand giants Auckland City to numerous continental titles.

“He’s going to help us in the first game before the game before the Champions League, in the group stage and also in the quarter-finals. But I think the semi-finals and finals is a different kind of game,” Mosimane said.