Pitso to embrace Confed if Sundowns fail to reach Champions League
Pitso Mosimane will embrace the less profiled Caf Confederation Cup next season if Mamelodi Sundowns fail to qualify for the more fancied Champions League.
With 12 matches remaining in their Premiership campaign, the Brazilians are involved in a battle for the top two league spots that see teams qualify for the Champions League with leaders Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits.
Sundowns are in the quarterfinal stage of this season’s Champions League, where they have been drawn against Al Ahly, with the first leg scheduled for Cairo on February 28.
If Sundowns win the tournament for the second time this year, they will not necessarily feature next season because qualification is only secured through winning the domestic league or finishing second.
“We want to play Champions League football next season but if it doesn’t happen we can play in the Confederation Cup,” said Mosimane, who has led Sundowns to Champions League qualification every season since 2015, winning the tournament in 2016.
“TP Mazembe played in the final against SuperSport United in 2016 and won it [the Confed Cup]. They celebrated after winning it – you must look at the images of their celebrations on the podium.
“It is an easier tournament to play in unlike the Champions League, which has more bragging rights.
“In Europe people don’t want to play on Thursdays [in the Europa League], they want to play on Tuesdays and on Wednesdays [in the Uefa Champions League].
“People are tired on Thursdays and you are not really interested in watching football on Thursday. It’s like that even here with the Confederation Cup because it plays on Sundays when we go to church.”
Past winners of the Confederation Cup include top African sides like TP Mazembe (DR Congo), CS Sfaxien (Tunisia), Hearts of Oak (Ghana) Étoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Al Ahly (Egypt), Asante Kotoko (Ghana) and Raja Casablanca (Morocco).
With Chiefs leading the pack in the Premiership by nine points and Pirates, SuperSport and Wits still relevant in the race, Mosimane is aware that winning the league or finishing second is not guaranteed.
“With the Champions League spot, we are under threat from Wits because they have games in hand and mathematically they can overtake us. But games in hand are not games won, and that is the situation,” Downs’ coach said.
“Wits are a threat and also to Chiefs because they can probably with the league.”
Mosimane added that Sundowns are always under pressure to win.
“I am happy with my team because they are playing at maximum. There is no game that you can come and say Sundowns didn’t try to win the game.
“We are under pressure and sometimes I feel for the players because we have to win all the games. Is it not possible, but if you want to keep up with the league you have to win against Chippa United on Saturday and Bloemfontein Celtic next Wednesday.
“Six points is huge because you will never know what is going to happen. It is very difficult to play for Sundowns because you have to play every week.
“There is nothing like this time we tried and let’s go back to the drawing board. There is no drawing board here – you have to win or we are in trouble.”