Mosa Lebusa pulls out of Sundowns' Group C opener against Petro
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has some injury and suspension issues to juggle as he takes on an Angolan outfit in Petro de Luanda — who he says are “no slouches” — in Downs’ Caf Champions League Group C encounter on Saturday night.
Absa Premiership champions Sundowns open their Group C campaign against the Angolan Girabola’s runners-up Petro at Loftus Versfeld (kickoff 9pm).
Mosimane has captain and midfield stalwart Hlompho Kekana suspended, while dependable centreback Mosa Lebusa pulled out with a groin injury in Friday’s training session.
Sundowns seem unlikely to risk goalkeeper Denis Onyango, who has been battling a niggling hamstring injury.
Sundowns, though, do have right-back Thapelo Morena, left-back Tebogo Langerman (both from being rested) and playmaker Gaston Sirino (from suspension) back from their 1-0 PSL win against AmaZulu at Loftus on Tuesday where Mosimane rested six players.
“The positives are we’ve got Thapelo Morena back, who missed the AmaZulu game in midweek, Gaston Sirino is available to play,” Mosimane said at a pre-match press conference at Loftus on Friday evening.
“We have Tebogo Langerman available, because we also kept him away from suspension on three yellow cards, not playing him against AmaZulu.
“Denis Onyango is forever doubtful lately, because he’s got the injury. He trained [on Friday] — to be honest we are on a borderline. We have to make a call.
“The danger is that if he plays tomorrow he can aggravate it. He might miss the [Telkom Knockout] final, he might miss the big one coming in Morocco [against Wydad Casablanca].
“So we’ll have to assess the risk with him, with the doctors, and then we make a tactical decision to say, ‘Do we really have to play him on Saturday?’
“My captain [Kekana] is serving the last match of his suspension.
“Mosa Lebusa pulled out [on Friday]. And he’s been consistent with Motjeka Madisha at centreback.
“We have numbers to fill in. It just disturbs the flow because the pair have been doing very well.
“We’ll opt for either Rivaldo [Coetzee] or Wayne Arendse. Ali Meza has also pulled out.”
Mosimane said anything less than a win against the supposedly weakest team in a group that also includes USM Alger and Wydad would put Sundowns under tremendous pressure to reach the quarterfinals.
“The first one at home is very important to win. Champions League — we know the formula. You need to win your home games,” he said.
“Because that’s nine points. And then you hustle for one or two more points away, and you are though, irrespective of other people.
“Because if you get that then mathematically it cancels each other, it works out.”
Sundowns have a programme of three big games in succession, including this weekend’s group opener.
They meet Wydad in Casablanca next Saturday (December 7), then the following Saturday (December 14) meet Maritzburg United in the Telkom Knockout final at Moses Mabhida Stadium.