Pitso Mosimane’s PSL bio-bubble lessons: Substitutions key in league battle

JOHANNESBURG – Coach Pitso Mosimane’s desire to win a third successive league title hasn’t brought a voracious or unreasonable side out of him – instead, he’s well aware that his Mamelodi Sundowns team might have to endure some knocks in their pursuit for glory.

Mosimane’s sentiments came after the Brazilians shared the spoils in a goalless draw with Orlando Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday night in a match that marked the resumption of the league season after a five-month hiatus.

Tuesday’s draw may appear as a matter of two points dropped for second-placed Sundowns as they reached 45 points to trail leaders Kaizer Chiefs by three after the final whistle.

But Mosimane has looked at the point gained as invaluable, considering there’s still 24 up for grabs, while all the teams that are in the title race still have to restart their campaigns in the gruelling Covid-19 conditions.

Sundowns are chasing their third league title in a row and fifth under Mosimane, and they know the title race is a marathon, not a sprint.

“Would you be unhappy with a point against Orlando Pirates?” Mosimane asked.

“There’s two ways to look at it: If you are happy with a point, it means that you were not ready to win the match. If you lose the match, then you’d say a point was better than nothing.”

He added: “Experience will help us. I think you asked us the same question when we played Chiefs last season, and I said then that the point will come in handy at a certain time.

“There was a time we played Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town, and I said (on both occasions), ‘mmm, this point, I can take it’.”

Mosimane always pushes his troops to go all out, express themselves and get the required results, but on Tuesday it was one of those days when they were not necessarily at their best as Pirates were the better team in the second half.

“Based on the game, you have to be realistic also; you can’t always have everything as you want it. You can say, ‘ahh, we could have won’. But let’s be honest, Orlando Pirates were good in the second half.”

The Brazilians were one of the first teams to play under the new normal as they reached the final of the Nedbank Cup after their 3-2 win over Bidvest Wits in the semi-finals at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

So in the bigger scheme of things, the Brazilians’ inferior efforts to close the gap at the top were not because of a lack of effort; instead it was a lesson to all the 32 PSL teams in the ‘bio-bubble’ that it may take a while before they get back to their best.

“The lesson learned from playing in the bubble is that in the second game you might not be as strong as you thought you were in the first,” Mosimane said.

“Make the substitutions as quickly as possible. We’ve told our players if they feel any discomfort, you have to come off because we have five subs and three slots to make them. You can’t be selfish because if you get injured, you’ll come back when the league is over.”


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