While Masandawana and the Buccaneers continue to make impressive progress in the Caf Champions League, Amakhosi were dumped out of the Caf Confederation Cup on the weekend by Zesco United of Zambia. Zesco are a potent side, and gave Sundowns a tough time in the Champions League semifinals as recently as 2016, but a team of Chiefs’ resources should really be putting up more of a fight than capitulating 5-2 on aggregate.
Ernst Middendorp’s side might point to tired legs after a busy schedule but these days most big teams have to deal with managing a hectic fixture list, and Middendorp has simply flopped in Africa like so many before him.
The fact that Chiefs have not even reached the group stages of a continental competition since winning the 2001 Mandela Cup is a blight on a club that is by far the most popular in the country.
Still, it is fantastic to see Sundowns and Pirates throwing their weight around on the continent, with the Buccaneers rejuvenated under Milutin Sredojevic, who has plenty of pedigree in the continental game. Sredojevic, it must not be forgotten, reached the semifinals of the Champions League with Pirates back in 2006, in an otherwise disappointing spell with the club.
With Pirates currently well-placed in the race for the Absa Premiership title as well, this could be a fantastic season for the Buccaneers, who do seem to have the squad to cope with a challenge on both fronts.
Sundowns, meanwhile, showed their nous with a brilliant win over old rivals Wydad Casablanca on Saturday evening, riling their opponents to the extent that the North African side totally lost their cool in the latter stages of a 2-1 defeat at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
If you can’t beat them, join them, as they say, and it is good to see Sundowns prepared to play the same tricks that get dealt to them when they travel on the continent.
Pitso Mosimane has proved tactically astute too, and in this week’s Phakaaathi, we hear his comments on the decision he made to play Lebo Maboe in attack against Wydad.
Stanton Fredericks also gives his views on the South African teams in Caf competitions on the page opposite, while we also head from Milutin Sredojevic, as Pirates look to continue their fine form against Baroka FC in the Absa Premiership this evening.
In our regular One-on-One feature we speak to Ndiviwe Mdabuka as he attempts to revive his career after a disappointing end to his time at Ajax Cape Town. In our Women in Football section, we speak to Leandra Smeda, who is doing well in European club football and eyeing the World Cup finals in France with Banyana Banyana later in the year.
Janine van Wyk also gives her views on Banyana’s 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in a Cape Town friendly on Saturday a pretty decent result for Desiree Ellis’ charges all things considered.
All that remains is for me to encourage readers to join Phakaaathi’s Private Fantasy League for a chance to win some great monthly prizes.
All you have to do is turn to Page 7 and follow the rules in the competition advert. Good luck!