Sunday, 17 July 2016

PITSO FOR PRESIDENT! Mamelodi Sundowns do the nation proud in Egypt

PROVING A POINT: Tiyani Mabunda got the opener
PITSO FOR PRESIDENT! Can there be any other response to Mamelodi Sundowns superb win in Cairo on Sunday night?

There was a time when beating Al Ahly or Zamalek in Egypt was unthinkable. Orlando Pirates went some way to disproving that theory in 2013, but Masandawana finally destroyed the myth with a 2-1 win at the PetroSport Stadium.

Tiyani Mabunda, the man who had his superb debut goal taken away when Algeria’s ES Setif were disqualified after crowd trouble in the opening game, got Sundowns underway with a cool follow-up after Khama Billiat hit the post in the first half.

A rusty Dennis Onyango, Uganda’s Player of the Year and the PSL’s Goalkeeper of the Season, then got tangled up with centre-back Thabo Nthethe, the PSL Defender of the year, allowing Mo Ibrahim a fortunate equaliser.

But in the second half, after Leonardo Castro hit the bar, Keagan Dolly produced the assist for PSL Player of the Season Billiat to thread home the winner.

OUCH: scorer Mo Ibrahim's broken ankle
The highly-rated Egyptians, unable to fill their stadium due to crowd restrictions, sang themselves to a stand-still… but the players failed to respond. Their nose for goal was about as effective as the crumbled feature on the front of their historic Sphinx after Ibrahim went off with what look like a badly broken ankle.

Ultimately, this win - following on from the home victory over Nigeria’s Enyimba - should see Pitso Mosimane’s record-breaking PSL champions through to the semi-finals of the African Champions League with two to play.

With Setif thrown out, two from three qualify - and Sundowns are simply too well equipped to fail from here.

What was it Pitso said"I always tell the boys, as long as it’s 11 against 11 on the pitch and the referee is doing his job well, then we should be able to play our normal game. What’s good is that no one is afraid of teams like Zamalek any more."

Yup, the same coach who described football in Africa as "a jungle" after the defeat against Medeama!

The prospect of a continental triumph for the first time since Orlando Pirates in 1995 is starting to dawn. Not bad for a side knocked out of the competition by AS Vita and then dumped from the secondary CAF Confederations Cup by Medeama earlier in the season.

Yes, Sundowns slipped in through the back door when Vita were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player. But to have their opening win in Algeria torn away from them by CAF makes up for that giant slice of fortune.

With Mosimane forced to bring people back from holiday - some without contracts - when the news of their reprieve broke, Sundowns have been little short of miraculous during the South African off-season.

With Enyimba to play in Nigeria and Zamalek in Tshwane, Pitso and his CBD stand on the verge of the semi-finals with Castro classy, Billiat brilliant and Dolly dominant.

15 years after their one and only appearance in the final in 2001, few would bet against them going all the way again. Pitso, who described Africa as “a jungle” and complained about the refereeing following the double failure earlier in the season, will have a very broad smile this morning.

And a final thought I've just put on twitter: Sitting here thinking DOLLY should have 20 caps, PITSO should replace and should be in the Premier League.

1 comment:

  1. Pitso had his chance to take Bafana Bafana up but he led the dance of Shame. He is doing well at club level, let him be the Jose Mourinho of South African football.