Pitso admits Sundowns ‘have to fight for it’ in Kampala to defend African crown

11 March 2017 - 14:19 By Mark Gleeson

Mamelodi Sundowns are in danger of joining the list of recent Caf Champions League holders who have crashed out early in defence of their title after scrapping a 2-1 win over Uganda’s Kampala Capital City Authority on Friday night.

The slender winning margin in the first leg of the opening tie of Downs’ defence of their continental crown at Lucas Moripe Stadium has left them in a precarious situation.

Coach Pitso Mosimane is worried about taking a tenuous lead to Kampala for next Saturday’s return match in their first round tie.

“We have ourselves to blame for putting ourselves in this position so we need to take ourselves out of this position‚” Mosimane said.

“So we have to fight for it. We have the experience‚ we have the game‚ we have the personnel.”

Sundowns‚ who had a bye in the preliminary round‚ jet off on Wednesday to Kampala where they play on an artificial surface at the Phillip Omondi Stadium‚ knowing that a 1-0 defeat will see them eliminated on the away goals rule.

They would join recent Champions League winners like Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe Englebert from the Democratic Republic of Congo in embarrassingly early elimination.

“We need to be cautious for the second leg and roll up our sleeves because it won’t be any easy game on that artificial pitch. It’s going to be tough‚ that I predict. Our mentality will have to be right.

“But we don’t have to win‚ by the way‚” Mosimane added‚ referring to the one-goal lead that Sundowns can successfully defend if they draw or even lose‚ in which case they must score two goals.

The Sundowns coach complimented the Ugandans‚ who had been shell-shocked by giving away two goals in the opening six minutes.

KCCA then fought back to grab a potentially vital away goal in the 69th minute through former Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic striker Geoffrey Sserunkuma.

“They worked hard. They are a hard-working team‚ they really worked off the ball‚ they fight‚ they run‚ they don’t give up‚ they have the hope.

“It won’t be an easy game for them either because they have to push everybody up-front to go score. And then we can play on the break‚ also because we’ve got that ability.

“So we’ll see. We have to defend well.”

Asked if his team were perhaps over-confident and felt they were going to win easily‚ Mosimane answered: “Possibly … possibly. But KCCA played their part.

“They did exceptionally well to show they can win the match. But I don’t think we were in trouble.

“We were never in trouble. Their goal – I didn’t see it coming to be honest.”

Friday’s game continued Sundowns’ relentless run of fixtures in both domestic league and cup competition as well as in the Champions League.

Mosimane swatted away a question about his team being fatigued.

“I don’t want to start complaining about tiredness. The programme is the way it is. It’s every three days‚” he responded.

“Why must we complain about tiredness? Would you asked me in the first 15 minutes when we were 2-0 up about tiredness? I don’t like that story of being tired.”

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport