Johannesburg - Ahead of the big crunch clash between league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns
and second placed Orlando Pirates, Brazilians coach Johan Neeskens says
he is not focused on his opponents but rather his own side’s football.
The two teams are set to go head-to-head in an Absa Premiership match at Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night, kick-off at 19:30.
At present four points separate the two teams on the log with the
Buccaneers trailing ‘Downs by four points after 20 rounds of league
And while Pirates will be determined to close the gap between the two,
Neeskens admits he is not concerned with the chasing pack.
“I'm not concentrated about Chiefs, Free State Stars, Moroka Swallows or
Orlando Pirates because you have to win your own games (if you want to
win the league) - that's the most important.
“I don't want to look at other teams. I only look at my team and if you
are on top of the League you only take care of your own team,” explained
Neeskens is also not taking his side’s four point gap at the top of the
table for granted as he understands it could fade in a matter of
“We have six or seven teams in this League who are contenders. In this
League everybody can beat everybody if you don't have a good day,”
“It means nothing at this stage that we are four points clear.
“Just a few months ago, SuperSport United were seven points clear and
have since fallen behind. It just shows that in the final weeks any team
can still be in it for the title,” said the Brazilian coach.
Nonetheless, Sundowns will be coming into this match full of confidence
following their emphatic 3-0 win over Ajax Cape Town on the weekend, a
result which ended a run of three consecutive draws in 2012.
Neeskens admits it was an important result, but they have to continue in
the same vein if they are to be successful on Tuesday night.
“It was important for us to win against Ajax. We didn’t give a lot away
and once we had taken the lead I told my players not to sit back, but to
come forward. We scored from the chances we made and must keep on doing
so,” concluded the ‘Downs mentor.
Pirates will also be coming into this game on a high following their
nail-biting 3-2 win over Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs on the weekend.
Benni McCarthy scored a brace in the match to lead the side to victory,
but caretaker coach Augusto Palacios is taking nothing for granted and
bemoaning the fact that he has only had one training session with his
team before each of their last three outings.
“It was a good Soweto derby, with five goals, but I’m taking it game by game. If you win, you can become a champion.
“My ambition is to play good football with the team. But I had one
training before Santos, one more before Chiefs, and I will have one
again against Sundowns.
Looking ahead to the ‘Downs clash, Palacios was careful not to forecast a result and kept his playing cards close to his chest.
“A coach can never predict. I can't predict what will happen.
“I have watched Sundowns play and will use players according to the opponent,” concluded the Pirates man.