Mamelodi Sundowns arrived safely in Egypt on Tuesday in advance to prepare for a heated battle against Al Ahly SC on Saturday evening in the CAF Champions League quarter final first leg.
Denis Onyango is one of the most experienced players when it comes to continental football and has come up against Egyptian Giants on more than one occasion.
Speaking in anticipation of the weekend’s long-awaited match Denis stated: “We anticipate a very tough encounter, looking at the fact that we’ve played them I think now this is the third time in a row. We are facing our former coach, it makes it a little bit interesting for us and also for them. We are looking forward to the encounter and we will try to get a positive result away from home so that by the time we play the second leg it’s not as tough as the first leg. We believe that we will get positive results on the weekend.”
The shot-stopper is well travelled in Africa with good insight on how North African opposition play. Onyango shared valuable lessons learnt in his travels that will help him and the team against Ahly on Saturday: “When you play a team of Al Ahly’s calibre or Zamalek or any team from North Africa, you need to work extremely hard, you need to have tactical discipline from all the players and you must be able to take your chances because if you don’t take your chances you get punished. It’s a team with a lot of quality players and we need to be very, very careful with them.”
He added once more with emphasis that “We need to take our chances and at least get an away goal, but our main objective is to try and win the game and see how the second leg will be played because you can never count on the second leg without getting positive results from the first leg.”
Onyango is having an impressive season in the DStv Premiership and is leading the way with clean sheets in the goalkeeping department. His experience and current form will be tested this weekend though he believes that his form in the domestic league has prepared him for the continental action ahead: “Of course it’s part of the process having a lot of clean sheets in the DStv Premiership, but Kennedy [Mweene] has also done it for the team, which means it’s not only about the goalkeeping department, the entire team has been working hard to make sure that we get enough clean sheets.”
Onyango also emphasised the importance of teamwork and noted that if the team continues as they have been doing so in the DStv Premiership, a chance to compete in the finals is possible “I believe that if we do the same in the Champions League we will be able to go as far as the finals because we defend as a team and attack as a team, the team has to work extremely hard to make sure that we get a clean sheet away from home.”
The game takes place on Saturday the 15th of May at Cairo International Stadium. Kick-off will be at 21h00.