‘Pirates punch in the same weight – but we punched much stronger’ - Pitso praises Downs

The current leaders of the Premier Soccer League must feel something like a Comrades Marathon runner in the 1980s‚ just past Botha's Hill‚ and with Bruce Fordyce steaming up behind them.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ 6-0 disembowelment – for really‚ the entire process was so surgically performed that it did somewhat resemble the slaughtering of a cow – of Orlando Pirates on Saturday alerted the PSL front-runners that Downs are hungry‚ and they are coming.

What Downs showed at Loftus Versfeld is that after their first one-month break after a year-and-half of action‚ they are fresh and a cut above the rest from their experience honing their skills becoming 2016 African Champions and competing at the Fifa Club World Cup.

Downs face Chippa United at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane‚ East London on Tuesday evening in a menacing fifth place now. Their game of fixtures catch-up sees them on 25 points from 11 games‚ just six behind leaders Cape Town City‚ who have played six more matches.

What impressed Pitso Mosimane most on Saturday was how Downs boxed clever against a Pirates side who Sundowns' coach has given far more credit to than the public and social media basting they have received since their record defeat.

“You could see that they put holes in our defence. It’s not often you'll find someone doing that Loftus‚” Mosimane said.

“Somehow‚ somewhere we went a little bit quiet and conservative. Because we could see that we were playing against a guy who‚ when he you give one punch‚ he gives two.

“And you say‚ ‘If I’m going to go again he might floor me’. So you’ve got to be smart‚ like you’re against Floyd Mayweather. Punch and jab and move back.

“And when they lose concentration you put combinations in there. And that’s what we did.

“It’s very difficult when you play against Sundowns and you put your defence high up‚ like Pirates did. Because we go out.

“What I’m happy about is that we found a team who can punch with us. We punch in the same weight. But we punched much stronger.”

Which is not to say Downs will repeat anything near their performance from Saturday in the Eastern Cape.

With an eye on Saturday’s big Caf Super Cup match against TP Mazembe at Loftus on Saturday‚ Mosimane is bound to rest players from the full-strength side he fielded against a Pirates combination he was clearly wary of.

And after a heavyweight bout like Saturday’s‚ Downs will need to come down in pace a little.

Heck‚ they have enough breathing space‚ even with games to catch up and a manic schedule‚ to even drop a few points here and there.

Chippa coach Dan Malasela made astute signings of centreback Justice Chabalala‚ striker Sello Japhta and midfielder Donald Mokondelela (in exchange for James Okwuosa and Marc van Heerden) from Pirates in January.

The Chili Boys‚ after their bright start to the season‚ had a somewhat torrid 11 matches going into the end of 2016‚ winning just two of those.

But a 2-1 home win against Baroka FC on their return from the PSL break will give Malasela’s men hope of an improved 2017.

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport