Mamelodi Sundowns played out to a goalless draw with Esperance Sportive de Tunis in a Caf Champions League encounter on Wednesday night.
Following suffering defeat in the reverse fixture, Masandawana put in a valiant performance as they kept the Blood and Gold at bay in front of a partisan crowd.
Ahead of the clash, the Brazilians also welcomed back many of their star players, including the trio of Hlompo Kekana, Anthony Laffor and Yannick Zakri, and Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane felt they were the difference on the night.
“Esperance played the way they always played,” Mosimane told reporters after the game.
“But the good thing was that we got three players back – we got Kekana back‚ (Yannick) Zakri and Anthony (Laffor). It really made a big difference. But unfortunately, we lost Thabo (Nthethe) on the day of the match with a headache and whatever he had. He was not fit to play,” Mosimane added.
The match was a tightly contested affair, and the 52-year-old has praised the organisation of both teams.
“I think we played tactically well. The game was well organised from both teams‚” Mosimane said.
“This is the kind of Champions League game where you see the two teams are disciplined and the organisation good. We hoped to have won, but we had only one clear chance in the beginning with Percy (Tau)‚ but we didn’t take that chance. He might have missed the chance but he played very well. It was a game where you had to leave out your emotions and do what you have to do,” Mosimane continued.
“Esperance were also afraid in the end. You could see they played for a draw in the end. We also didn’t want to open to be honest, but they realised we could do damage. They are smart‚ they are intelligent. They made the right decision and they go onto eight points. I think I would have done the same thing if I was playing against Sundowns because if you open up‚ we have the speed behind to catch you,” Mosimane stated.
Meanwhile, the solitary point saw Sundowns move up to second on the group standings, but Mosimane believes that the pressure is on them as they are still to travel to Ethiopia.
“We have to be clear and see the bigger picture and progress slowly until the six (group) matches finish‚ and when they finish if we are number one it will be better‚ but even if we are second we will (still) move on‚” Mosimane said.
“There is a lot of pressure on both of us. We are going to Addis Ababa‚ which will be difficult but also Esperance is going to Kinshasa (to play AS Vita Club)‚ where it’s not easy. We’ll see how it goes‚ but the best thing for us after the match in Addis is still to be second in the group,” Mosimane concluded.