‘They’re in the pound seats,’ SuperSport coach Hunt says of Sundowns
After an absence of more than two months from the DStv Premiership while featuring in other competitions, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns return to the league intent on reclaiming their top spot by beating SuperSport United on Wednesday.
The Tshwane derby at Lucas Moripe Stadium (7.30pm) is a fight for pole position as Gavin Hunt's side will ascend to the top if they become the first team to beat the Brazilians in the league this season.
Sundowns — who have won their opening eight matches, including a 1-0 victory over Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium in coach Rulani Mokwena's team's last match in the league on September 27, are in second place and a point behind Cape Town City (25 points). Sundowns have played five games less than City's 13.
Like many other teams chasing Sundowns, SuperSport have been wasting opportunities to overtake the Brazilians in their absence, and are in third spot with 23 points after 12 games.
Hunt is not happy Sundowns have had two months without playing a league match. However, the situation was out of Downs' hands as they had to participate in the inaugural African Football League, which they won, and the Caf Champions League, with a Carling Black Label match thrown in amid Fifa international breaks.
“It's a bit of a fuss at the moment, isn't it?,” Hunt said of the league programme, where a few teams, including SuperSport, have been forced to miss domestic games as they play in Caf interclub competitions. Matsatsantsa and Sekhukhune United are competing in the Caf Confederation Cup group stages.
“I mean one team has played 13 matches while the other has played eight. So, there's no consistency and you can't really get a good picture.
“They [Sundowns] are in the pound seats, obviously, given that no-one has really gone past them.
“So, jeez, if it's one game you can understand; but five games, it's a bit unrealistic. We can't worry about them, we've got to worry about ourselves and try to concentrate on trying to win at least two points a game, which we are not doing now, unfortunate, but there's still time.
“It's only halfway and there's a long way to go and what's going to happen between now and February is there are going to be a lot of changes.”
Hunt was referring to the Africa Cup of Nations, which will be played in January and February in Ivory Coast and will force the league to break for a month.
“How teams prepare over that period, what they do and what they don't do, [all of that can lead to] change [in the league status] by February. It's like a new season again.”
Mokwena said with Sundowns playing in so many competitions they have to approach each game at a time, and their fixture against SuperSport will be no different.
Sundowns beat Mauritian outfit Nouadhibou 3-0 in their opening Champions League Group A match on Sunday. Mokwena said his team have not had much time to prepare for SuperSport, a match they play a few hours before they turn their eyes to their second Champions League match away to DR Congo's TP Mazembe on Saturday.
“I haven't complained once [about fixture congestion],” Downs' coach said.
“I haven't complained about the number of injuries and number of games. At a club like Sundowns who cares if I start complaining; who's listening and who cares about my complaints? We have to go on with the business and try to win games.
“We have that mentality where we present no excuses and we try to give the best we can every single day, which is what this club is about.”
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