Sundowns head to Free State Stars seeking to put cup final defeat and turmoil of coaching change behind themPitso Mosimane returns to the helm of a club side for the first time in more than five years when he takes Mamelodi Sundowns to Phuthaditjhaba to meet Free State Stars in the Absa Premiership on Wednesday.
The game comes just two days after Mosimane’s first training session with the club, who appointed him as the replacement to Johan Neeskens late on Sunday.
His last game at the helm of a club was a goalless draw away against Moroka Swallows in May 2007 and he would be happy to come away with a similar score line from a tough assignment at the Charles Mopeli Stadium.
Sundowns were sweating on the fitness of striker Nyasha Mushekwi, injured in training this week, but he has since failed a fitness test and did not make the trip to the eastern Free State.
But Katlego Mphela is available for the first time this season and Mosimane might be tempted to give him a few minutes play late on in the game.
Mosimane, fired as Bafana Bafana coach in June, also has to do without injured Punch Masenamela and Lebohang Mokoena.
Sundowns need points to lift themselves away from the relegation zone but Free State Stars have an opportunity to climb into fifth place if they beat their billionaire opponents.
But they are aware it will not be an easy task, even if Sundowns might be mentally exhausted after Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final defeat and then the turmoil of the coaching change.
“It's not going to be a walk in the park. Yes they have started the season very slowly and in recent games they seemed to be slowly finding their footing so we need to be very cautious,” said Stars’ veteran midfielder Paulus Masehe.
|DID YOU KNOW|
- In head-to-head stats, Stars and Sundowns have met in 45 league matches since 1986. ‘Downs have claimed nearly twice as many wins as Ea Lla Koto (19 to 10), while no less than 16 matches have ended in draws.
- Stars’ home record against the Brazilians reads: P22 W7 D8 L7 GF24 GA25.
- Last season the Pretoria side did a league ‘double’ over their Free State opponents, winning 2-0 away and 1-0 at home.