Pitso Mosimane is not “brave enough” to declare Mamelodi Sundowns ready for Saturday’s Nedbank Cup semifinal against Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium‚ answering quite pointedly on that question: “I don’t know.”
Mosimane‚ in his online press conference ahead of Saturday’s double header return to football from a five-month suspension due to Covid-19‚ listed definite and niggling injuries that have arisen from unprecedented circumstances and uncertainty over the return date.
“It’s our new normal life. The position that we have never ever been in‚ in our life time‚” Mosimane said.
“So for me to tell you‚ ‘We are ready‚ we know what to do‚ we know how we’re going to handle this’ – I’m not brave enough to say that.
“But I can tell you what I know‚ which is that we started the wrong part of training thinking we were starting on July 18. And then we overloaded players and got some injuries.
“And then we thought maybe it was August 1. And that date was just a date. And then we changed our focus back to where we are now‚ which is August 8.
“So you have got to understand that we prepared the team wrong at the very beginning‚ because we were preparing quickly‚ for the games to start in 10 or 12 days from resuming training on July 3.
“ … The next two days we’ll make an assessment if Ali Meza is available. Anele Ngcongca is not training‚ Ricardo Nascimento and Denis Onyango have got niggling injuries. Then we had the players who could not train because they tested positive for Covid-19.
“There were players who had flu because it’s winter. Mauricio Affonso is stuck in Uruguay. Thapelo Morena is there but we don’t want to risk him yet.”
Downs’ coach described the strange life of football under Covid-19.
“For any team to have such a long time out‚ then training in small groups‚” he said.
“We have done only one video analysis. And that’s with social distancing. You wait for a certain time because you can’t be in a closed room‚ so we do it outside‚ when there’s no reflection of the sun‚ between 5pm and 6pm.
“And it’s cold then‚ and players can get flu. So we did it once and the doctor stopped it.
“You’ve got to understand how strange football is in Covid-19. We don’t have team spirit in the camp.
“We eat within two hours – this one pops in and eats‚ this one goes out. Sometimes you are in the dining hall alone‚ and where are your colleagues you always see?
“There are a lot of things. You can say I’m making excuses. And maybe you don’t want to hear that. Maybe you just want to know if we are ready to play.
“And I can answer that quickly if you want. Really‚ I don’t know. Let’s see in the football under Covid-19 if we’re ready.
“I’ve got my expectations from what I’ve seen of football under Covid-19. So I can presume. We’ll have 11 players on the pitch‚ and we’ll have five subs.
“We’ll have all the protocol of Covid-19 observed‚ and we will play.”
Baroka FC face Bloemfontein Celtic in Saturday’s 2pm semifinal‚ with Sundowns and Wits meeting at 7.15pm.