Friday’s Absa Premiership fixtures set in motion what will be nonstop football action until August 25 – that’s 26 league games in 12 days.
It is interesting how the revised fixtures to conclude the delayed season saw Mamelodi Sundowns play first, while the programme makes leaders Kaizer Chiefs appear as if they have to react to what their rivals do.
Whether this will give the two giants an advantage is another story, more so as they are set to meet on August 27.
Once again, Sundowns find themselves having played more matches than the rest so far – their extra game was as a result of their progress into the Nedbank Cup final, where they will face Bloemfontein Celtic next month.
With their clash against Cape Town City tomorrow, the defending league champions will mark their fourth competitive game in all competitions in a space of nine days since the restart of the PSL programme last weekend.
But Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane was this week unfazed by action now coming in thick and fast.
After all, his side have mastered the art of managing a pressing schedule, having previously juggled regular CAF Champions League assignments with the domestic programme.
“We don’t complain about playing games back to back. The challenge is the long layoff of four months without proper training,” said Mosimane, responding to a City Press question during a virtual media conference after Sundowns’ 1-1 draw against Highlands Park on Friday.
“The rhythm we all want is not coming up as it is supposed to ... it’s difficult. The challenge is for us to get a proper rhythm and fluidity. And who is playing with fluidity?”
The draw at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto was the second on the trot after the Brazilians were held to a goalless draw by Orlando Pirates in the opening league game of football’s resumption in the bio-bubble on Tuesday.
Sundowns have now dropped four points in two matches, but Mosimane is not panicking, hough he admitted that his side was not playing up to standard.
“It is easy to speak, but difficult to do it. And, as I said, you can do it if you’ve got a good foundation, but you can’t if you haven’t played [competitive] football for four months,” he said.
The latest stalemate means Sundowns missed the chance to close the gap on log leaders Kaizer Chiefs to just one point.
But Mosimane warned that the Brazilians won’t give up the fight in their bid to achieve a treble – the Nedbank Cup and the Absa Premiership would add to the Telkom Knockout trophy they won in December.
“Tonight [the Friday game against Highlands] was the game I thought we’d win. But I have to encourage the team and find a solution. Our job is to scratch more for the three points.
“Yes, we’re not gonna give up because you never know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. We are an ambitious team as always. We are trying to win the three trophies,” Mosimane said.
“We’ve got the final [and] we’ll try to win it. If we keep going and believe [in ourselves], we can do it.”
Looking ahead to the Cape Town City game, Mosimane predicted another difficult duel against a team that has become their hoodoo opponent.
City beat Chippa United 1-0 on Friday as the Citizens continue to move towards the safety zone.
Interestingly, Sundowns’ next two games against City and Maritzburg United are at their “home” grounds – Lucas Moripe and Loftus – and Mosimane says he’ll wait and see if this could psychologically work in their favour.