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Pitso Mosimane: 'Those who haven’t played‚ they can’t comment'

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane shares his thoughts at TV/virtual press conference in Johannesburg
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane shares his thoughts at TV/virtual press conference in Johannesburg
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Football under Covid-19 is a whole new ball-game‚ and to listen to Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane describe it after his first experience of it‚ almost a whole new sport.

Sundowns beat Bidvest Wits 3-2 in the late Nedbank Cup semifinal in the double header at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening‚ after Bloemfontein Celtic brushed past 10-man Baroka FC 3-0 in the afternoon

The first two games of the return to football saw howlers aplenty‚ sluggish play‚ a complicated five-substitution system‚ and injuries to a level that will take much adaptation in how they are managed for teams not to end the month without players.

“Football under Covid-19‚” Mosimane’s image mused‚ beamed to journalists’ laptop and cellphone screens in their living rooms in his online Zoom press conference – another feature of the “new normal” – afterwards.

“In the game of Bloem Celtic and Baroka we saw massive injuries. In our game we also had massive injuries and ‘Tso’ [Siphelele Mkhulise] could not finish. ‘Mshishi’ [Themba Zwane]‚ who always finishes a game could not finish.

“[Sibusiso] Vilakazi‚ who always is in good condition‚ could not finish. Rivaldo [Coetzee] was supposed to be out. And we were preparing Wayne Arendse and Tiyani Mabunda to come on‚ because she could not cope. And I don’t know if he can play on Tuesday.

“That’s football under Covid-19. Players are not ready. You could see that.”

Mosimane was asked if‚ having experience football under Covid-19 now‚ Sundowns have some advantage going into their huge Absa Premiership match-up – the league’s opening game of the restart – against Orlando Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday evening.

“Ja football inside Covid-19 – we know it now. We can now comment about it. But if you haven’t played you can’t comment about it‚” he said.

“Because if you haven’t suffered a muscle injury like the one we have got with Mkhulise‚ and Rivaldo was on the bench [at the end]‚ you don’t understand.

“ … Only four teams can talk about football in Covid-19. Those who haven’t played‚ they can’t comment. They must comment after. It’s a difficult space.

“Yes‚ we’ve got a bit of information ahead of Orlando Pirates‚ to be honest. We can say we have a bit of an advantage because we know.

“I don’t know how many times I asked the fourth official‚ or the bench‚ do I still have a substitution to make? They said yes you have‚ but you only have two to go because you’ve already made three.

“It’s confusing. The half time doesn’t count as a substitute [opportunity]. And I kept asking [PSL senior manager] Lux [September] – ‘Hey Lux‚ explain this thing to me’.

“So it’s really difficult. And you might know the rules‚ but once you are under stress and pressure there‚ everything goes out of your mind. And that’s football under Covid-19.

“Yes‚ we are playing a team that is resting tonight and watching when we have got people here with hamstrings and all that.

“But they will also have their own chance – everybody is coming.

“So‚ an advantage because we have played; disadvantage because we are playing a well-rested team. Disadvantage because we don’t have the legs until Tuesday.

“So‚ ice bath‚ and let’s see how it goes. Until we gain progressively and we understand how it is‚ and we will be able to manage it.

“Ja‚ big game on Tuesday. But it’s not the same games that we saw before. It’s totally different games.”

The five substitution ruling allows changes at half time‚ and at three other times during the game in an attempt to not disrupt play‚ which was why injured Coetzee could not be replaced at the end.