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Pitso Mosimane sweating over fitness of Jali and Zwane ahead of crunch clash with Pirates

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Pitso Mosimane hopes to have influential midfielders Andile Jali and Themba Zwane back to full fitness for Mamelodi Sundowns’ big Absa Premiership encounter against Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday night.

Both Zwane and Jali were left out of Downs’ 1-0 extra-time Nedbank Cup victory over Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday night due to hamstring injuries.

The fact that Mosimane, who is usually loathe to rotate, made four changes from their 1-0 midweek league win away to Stellenbosch FC suggests that he has been juggling his players in anticipation of the matchup against Pirates.

Second-placed Downs need all the three points against Pirates to put pressure on log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

Mosimane’s attempt to portray key midfielders Jali and Zwane as doubtful, does also have a hint of gamesmanship to it.

Jali may have a mild hamstring strain, but before the game against Highlands Mosimane had said his main reason for resting the Bafana Bafana central midfielder was his three yellow cards and to avoid a suspension against Pirates.

“Ja, it’s important that they recover, because both have got hamstrings. But you can never say they are available until on Monday,” Mosimane said after Kgeletso Makgalwa’s 115th-minute strike earned Sundowns a hard-fought win against Park.

“Monday will tell you, Or Tuesday morning. We’ll see.

“Ja, we struggled to have our combination plays without them — you could see. But at the end of the day you went through. It’s a cup game.”

Mosimane said he also made substitutions against Highlands, such as Nicholus Lukhubeni replacing Sibusiso Vilakazi at the start of extra time, with an eye to playing Pirates.

“This one, going to extra time, will affect the game against Pirates. That’s why I didn’t want to keep ‘Vila’ a little bit longer, for Tuesday.

“But, at the moment, as long as we went through. What’s important is to go through.”

Sundowns (44 points from 21 games) would like a win against Pirates on Tuesday in a big week in the title race to keep pressure on Chiefs (48 from 22), who meet sixth-placed championship outsiders Bidvest Wits (38 from 21) at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.”

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