On Sunday Mamelodi Sundowns lost 2-1 to Otoho d'Oyo in their CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg match.
Was Pitso Mosimane’s rotation of his squad a key factor in the defeat?
In recent seasons, the Masandawana coach has changed his view on rotation. In 2013 and 2014, he regularly changed his side and spoke about the need to give everyone a chance. However, in recent seasons, he has tried to keep a very settled XI - except for when he has injuries to deal with.
One example was in April’s 3-1 win in the PSL against Chippa United where Mosimane picked his best XI despite having a crucial away CAF Champions League first leg semi-final clash against Wydad Casablanca just three days later.
However, for this past weekend’s defeat in Congo-Brazzaville, the coach took the decision to leave both Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi on the bench whilst Rivaldo Coetzee was not in the 18 man squad
Starts were handed to Andile Jali and Phakamani Mahlambi. The latter missed the PSL opening-day win against SuperSport United due to a suspension carried over from last season, whilst Jali was injured for that match. Mahlambi started just two of the side’s 14 CAF Champions League matches last season, whilst Jali also started twice, but failed to even appear as a substitute in the other 12 games.
The starting XI selected had all of Mabunda, Jali and Kekana in the same midfield. The coach told the assembled media prior to departing for the game, “If it’s difficult to play away, play to get a draw, just don’t lose. It would be nice to get a draw with goals. 1-1 is better than 0-0.”
The defensive team selection appeared to backfire on the coach though, as his side lost 2-1 to Otoho d'Oyo with Kekana red-carded and the rested duo of Zwane and Vilakazi needing to come on at half-time anyway.
This is not the first time that Sundowns have tried to play defensively in an away CAF Champions League match and it has backfired. In January’s group stage defeat away to Lobi Stars in Nigeria, the coach selected five defenders.
This was the Sundowns’ fifth defeat in their last six away CAF CL matches, with their run reading: Lost, Drew, Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost.
Lineups for previous four CAF CL away defeats:
1-2 loss away to Wydad Casablanca: Onyango, Ngcongca, Nascimento, Lebusa, Langerman, Kekana, Mabunda, Morena, Sirino, Zwane, Maboe.
0-1 loss away to Al Ahly: Onyango, Ngcongca, Arendse, Nascimento, Langerman, Kekana, Mabunda, Manyisa, Morena, Maboe, Zwane.
0-1 loss away to Wydad Casablanca: Onyango, Morena, Arendse, Nascimento, Langerman; Kekana, Mabunda, Zwane, Maboe, Lakay, Mahlambi.
2-1 loss away to Lobi Stars: Mweene, Coetzee, Nascimento, Lebusa, Morena, Kekana, Mabunda, Lakay, Laffor, Maboe, Sirino.
Should Pitso Mosimane have played his best team in the game on Sunday or was he right to rotate? What is to blame for this disappointing run of results in away games? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.