Concern as numbers drop ahead of Kampala tie
Sibusiso Vilakazi is set to miss Mamelodi Sundowns’ second leg of their Caf Champions League first-round tie against Kampala Capital City Authority on Saturday.
Vilakazi joined Downs’ growing injury list when he limped off just before half time‚ replaced by Anthony Laffor‚ in the Brazilians’ 0-0 Absa Premiership draw against Polokwane City at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday.
Coach Pitso Mosimane was adamant Vilakazi would not board the plane to Kampala, Uganda, yesterday morning.
With Sundowns’ communications and technical staff all on that flight‚ no one at their offices was able to confirm if that was the case.
However‚ Vilakazi looks set to miss the return leg‚ where Downs need to protect a slender 2-1 lead.
Downs’ injury list includes star forward Khama Billiat and stalwart goalkeeper Denis Onyango‚ while from their registered Champions League squad Keagan Dolly has also been lost to Montpellier in France.
“We’re not taking him [Vilakazi]‚” Mosimane said after his team’s draw against City on Tuesday night. “We’re travelling in the morning and have to be at the airport by 6.30am. “So Vila is out. “Khama is out. Khama will be back against Kaizer Chiefs [in the league match on April 1].
“We have to be smart. We are running short of numbers in the Champions League. We have lost Vila‚ Khama is not there‚ Denis is not there‚ Keagan is not there.
“We registered 25‚ so I’m counting about five now who are not there. “The numbers are getting thinner. “It’s like when we played Zamalek when we had 15 players in the  final. But we managed to do it.”
KCCA’s away goal scored in the first leg in Atteridegville makes life tough for Sundowns in Kampala‚ where they must draw or lose by a higher single-goal margin than 2-1 to go through.
A 1-0 defeat for Sundowns would see KCCA through on away goals‚ and a 2-1 loss would see the game go to penalties.
Meanwhile, Sundowns’ tally of points from games in hand would make them Absa Premiership leaders should they win both‚ but only by two points now over current leaders Bidvest Wits.
Their draw against Polokwane City on Tuesday left a once seemingly unstoppable side in fifth place, on 34 points from 17 games.
Winning both games in hand would see them on 40 points‚ two points clear of Wits‚ who have 38 points from 18 games.
But Downs have a manic schedule to juggle and have dropped seven points from a possible nine in their previous three league games – draws against City and Chippa United (also 0-0) and a 1-0 away defeat against Cape Town City.
The Downs coach admitted their mini-slump was a concern.
“It’s a worry. Out of nine points we have got two, we’ve dropped seven.
“But football is not about should have‚ could have. It’s about taking the opportunity,” he said.
Downs’ injuries, which are the by-product of a tight schedule, have played their role.
“You’re playing three different tournaments in six days. That’s not easy‚” the coach said.
“You’re playing the league and it’s got its own tempo. The Nedbank Cup has its own tempo. In the Champions League you need to play very clever. “Every three days we’re playing. “We will get there. All is not lost.”