'You're only going to see Sundowns' quality when they play against Al Ahly‚' says Bafana coach Baxter
The real quality of Mamelodi Sundowns squad can only be seen when they play against big teams in the African Champions League‚ Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has said.
Sundowns beat Egyptian powerhouses Al Ahly 5-1 on aggregate a few days ago and then came crashing down to earth after a 2-0 defeat to Supersport United in the domestic league at Loftus on Wednesday night.
Baxter delivered a comment that perhaps explains why Sundowns suffered a defeat against SuperSport‚ a team they had not lost a league match to since 2013‚ just days after scaling continental heights against one of the biggest teams in the world.
“You are only going to see the quality of Sundowns when they play against Al Ahly because when they play against normal PSL teams‚ I think it’s probably more difficult for them (the players) to drive each other‚” said the Bafana coach.
“That’s why Pitso tries to swoop the team around a little bit to get somebody who’s got a point to prove.”
Wednesday’s defeat means Sundowns must win almost all their remaining league matches if they are to have a chance of stopping top of the table Orlando Pirates from winning the league.
Pirates are six points clear of Sundowns and are left with three games to finish their league programme while Downs are left with five.
“The Sundowns team that Pitso has assembled now has got a lot of competition (among the players)‚” said Baxter.
“It reminds me a little bit of the Liverpool team that had people like Ian Rush. I knew Kenny Dalgish that well and he used to tell me that ‘we just play five aside everyday in training’.
“It was because the intensity of those small games was so great. He said 'it’s because we have such competition that we drive each other’.
“Now Sundowns reminds me a lot of that (Liverpool team) at the moment. They are driving each other.
“Pitso has put together the squad‚ he’s structured it right and they are driving each other.”
Sundowns face Baroka FC at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday and then they host Chippa United at Loftus on Saturday.
Immediately after the Chippa United encounter they travel to Morocco to face Wydad Casablanca in the semifinals on the Champions League.