COMMENT: Why Sundowns should be happy with their draw against Asec Mimosas

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Maximum points are always welcome, but on the continent draws away from home should also be celebrated

Mamelodi Sundowns may have failed to claim maximum points away from home in the Caf Champions League against Asec Mimosas, but it is certainly no train smash.

Playing away on the continent is arguably one of the most daunting fixtures for any player in Africa, as hostilities, weather conditions and the pitch itself, play a major role.

That is why African football is all about winning at home, while claiming victory away is seen as a bonus.

Sundowns have done well to heed this call so far this season in the tournament.

Defeat in the opening game in Nigeria against Lobi Stars would have dented their confidence, but they were able to regroup and rectified their mistakes as they registered favourable results against both Wydad Casablanca and Asec.

Mamelodi Sundowns, Emiliano Tade, February 2019

Sundowns now have just one home game left, and if they are able to pick up the nine points from all three of their games in Tshwane, that puts them in a great position to advance.

That is why the draw against the Ivory Coast champions cannot be underplayed as that point could be the difference, not only between qualification and elimination, but also whether or not Sundowns end on top or second in the group.

These are all factors which Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane would have considered when he forecasted his side’s path to the knockout stages.

Football is often a game of fine margins and a draw in Africa is something to be proud about - it is what all the great African sides set themselves out to do.

Mamelodi Sundowns PS feature

The likes of Al Ahly, TP Mazembe and Esperance among others all set themselves out to be difficult to beat away from home and just like a lion eyes its prey before striking, they then deliver the killer blow in front of their home fans.

This is something that only experience can teach you and Mosimane is certainly not short on that these days.

It’s also a case of choosing the right battles. Against Lobi Stars, Sundowns wanted to hit the ground running, but against Asec it was a more cautious approach.

The same though, cannot be said for a team such as fellow South African side Orlando Pirates who fell on their own sword against Esperance on Tuesday, perhaps this is where Milutin Sredojevic could have taken a leaf out of the 'Pitso Mosimane Book of Coaching'.

Micho sang the tune of an attractive football playing side that were going to Tunisia in search of goals against the defending champions.

While in theory, it is might seem doable, on the field it proved a monumental task.

Rather a more pragmatic approach might have been beneficial.

Pitso Mosimane of Mamelodi Sundowns August 2018

On Sundowns’ travels on the continent, it is rare to see Mosimane set his troops out to go ultra-attacking, although they usually do come out the gates firing in hope of sneaking an early goal.

But at the same time, Sundowns play to the tune of their opponent. This does not mean that Mosimane is showing his opponents too much respect, but instead, he is playing to the opposition’s weaknesses.

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Very few teams, if not in Africa but in the world are able to stick to a single well thought out gameplan for every game.

Adjustments are to be made, and the ability to win ugly is also something to be considered.

Mosimane has, without doubt, mastered the arts of winning, and with a trip to Casablanca to follow it will take a brave person to bet against the Sundowns mentor changing his approach. 

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