Ahead of the demanding schedule facing his team, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane decided to take a short left out of the city so he could relax and stay away from the hectic football space.
The Brazilians are facing a fixture congestion, starting with their Telkom Knockout semifinal clash against Golden Arrows at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
Then they are scheduled to host AmaZulu in a league game before taking on Angolan side Petro de Luanda in the first group game of the CAF Champions League – three games in seven days.
Downs’ fixtures could force the PSL to reschedule some of their league games, especially if they reach the Telkom Knockout final.
Sundowns will also most likely spend Christmas on the road as they are scheduled to play USM Alger in Algeria on December 27.
Mosimane needed a break to recharge his batteries in a quiet place with limited cellphone reception ahead of the hectic schedule. However, he was in a relaxed mood, saying he was used to the fixture congestion.
“We are used to this [congested] programme and expected it. For us, it’s a normal procedure, although it is forever challenging,” Mosimane told City Press this week, adding that the tight schedule required him to manage the players wisely.
“The only challenge is the travelling around the continent as there are no direct flights. Hence we always ask the league to assist us with rescheduling some fixtures,” he said.
The coach said it was also important to manage players such as Phakamani Mahlambi, Gastón Sirino and Themba Zwane because of injuries.
“We expect them back from injuries when we play Arrows next week.
“Sometimes we compromise them for certain matches as we want them back for important matches. Themba could have played against Arrows last weekend, but we had to save him. The Champions League is important for the team and we want to go all the way.”
But Mosimane’s eyes are fixed on Arrows on Saturday. Downs are looking to avenge the 3-2 defeat they suffered at the hands of Steve Komphela’s team.
“Going back to the same venue where we lost can work both ways psychologically. On the negative side, our players might feel down, but it could also work in our favour as they believe they can correct it and win it,” he said.
“We believe we have a team to beat Arrows, even the same [side] that lost last weekend can beat them.”
Mosimane was also quick to jump to the defence of his goalkeeper Denis Onyango following his howler that gifted Arrows the equalising goal last Sunday.
“He will make mistakes, that’s for sure. It is normal for a top goalkeeper and we know he will make one or two mistakes in a season. We have budgeted for that. We don’t worry too much about those because he has saved us a lot in many games. The guy has been the best on the continent for three years. What more do we want?”
Mosimane said he was happy with Onyango’s state of mind after the goalie kept a clean sheet for Uganda in their goalless Afcon qualifier against Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
“I watched their game and he was outstanding. It shows he has his confidence back and has moved on.”