Fri Sep 22 08:11:44 CAT 2017

'We need to congratulate Wits and Gavin (Hunt) - they’ve done very well‚ they fought for it,' says Mosimane

By Mark Gleeson | 2017-05-18 12:15:52.0

Pitso Mosimane said Mamelodi Sundowns retaining their title this year “was not meant to be” and sportingly congratulated Bidvest Wits‚ but not without reminding again of his team’s burdensome last 12 months and their greater importance of the African Champions League title when compared to the Premier Soccer League.

His first reaction to having ceded the league to Wits after Wednesday night’s surprise turn of events in the penultimate round of the league season was: “We gave a big fight‚ I’m proud of them (the Sundowns players)‚ they tried.

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"You can see they are still playing in the lowest gear but they are putting up a fight.

"I’m really‚ really proud of them.

"They gave their best this year and for them to still keep fighting to finish in the top two is tremendous.”

Wits took an unassailable four point lead after their home win over Polokwane City which Sundowns needed to match if they were to take the race into the final round of games on Saturday‚ May 27.

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Instead‚ the African champions were 2-0 down at home to Maritzburg on Wednesday before scrambling a draw – a result not good enough to prevent the end of their reign.

The sense that Sundowns‚ whose started the night just two points behind Wits but with the easier looking run-in‚ had a foreboding of their fate was made evident by Mosimane’s pre-match television interview‚ where‚ rather extraordinarily‚ he was hedging his bets about winning the title or finishing second and still qualifying for next year’s Champions League.

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At half-time he seemed to have given up the ghost as his side were trailing to Maritzburg and Wits were leading 1-0 at home to Polokwane City‚ even though the situation still seemed retrievable.

“I told them at half-time‚ ‘no matter what‚ just try and fight for the second position’‚ which is still there for the Champions League because it is important for us to qualify for the Champions League for a third year in a row.

“We need to congratulate Wits and Gavin (Hunt); they’ve done very well‚ they fought for it. I don’t think it was meant for us as we always had it a little bit but we never had it‚” Mosimane continued.

“The last time we had it (leadership of the PSL standings) was for two days.

"It was not meant for us‚ really we have to accept it.

“The boys have done very well.

"Over two years they have played 130-140 games. It’s very difficult.

"We have to remember they are not machines‚ but human beings. I’m proud of them.

“Of course I’m disappointed but we have to accept also because it’s life and football.

"I’ve been in this situation many times before.

"I was second with SuperSport many times and could not win it (the title).

"So it’s OK‚ it’s part of competition. You have to give credit to Wits‚ they really fought for it.”

But Mosimane said winning the league could not be compared to Champions League success‚ which Sundowns achieved last October.

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“We will try to win this year and also next year‚” he promised. - TMG Digital/TMG Sport