“We will fight to make you proud, but we are yet to be on that level”
PITSO Mosimane has a dream. The Mamelodi Sundowns coach would like to see two South African teams reach the semi-finals of the Caf Champions League.
He said this after Sundowns were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by Al Ahly. The Egyptian side held the Brazilians to a 1-1 draw at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday to win the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Al Ahly qualified a day after Zamalek also reached the last four, eliminating reigning African champions Esperance.
Last season Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, the only South African teams to have won the Champions League, made history when they reached the group stage together in the same campaign. It was the first time SA had two teams in the group stage of Africa’s premier competition. Now Mosimane wants that feat to stretch to the semis.
“South Africa you’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee,” Mosimane said. “We will fight to make you proud, but we are yet to be on that level. We are fighting. Look at the budgets, the clubs and the turnout, guys this is the best Champions League quarter-finals in the history of the tournament.
“Who would have thought that Esperance would be out in the last eight? We sit here, cry and whine because we are out? Esperance with their big budget are out. We go again next year. We will try and fight. Maybe in the next five years we will have two SA teams in the semi-finals. We are coming, slowly.”
Sundowns supporters will be hoping that Mosimane will still be at the club when that happens. The former Caf Coach of the Year is yet to sign a new contract with the Brazilians. His current deal expires at the end of the season. ‘Jingles’ is Sundowns’ longest serving coach in their history, having been there since 2012. During his time at the club he has won numerous domestic competitions, four PSL titles and the 2016 Champions League.
“Remember when I said that 80 percent of the contract has been agreed? I have complied to 100 percent of what Sundowns wanted,” Mosimane said. “I am waiting for Sundowns now. I have long complied. The ball is in Sundowns’ court. I am here, and I want to be here. I hope that I am here. We will see. I am sorted now. I have complied with everything. So, I am OK. It’s on the other side.”
The Brazilians’ lack of a target man is an issue that still comes up in the Champions League, especially when they play against physically imposing sides.
“We brought (Mauricio) Affonso to help us in this story but he is injured,” Mosimane said.