Mamelodi Sundowns continued their rise in CAF Champions League football by reaching the group stage for a fourth time in a row. The Brazilians booked their place after thrashing Al-Ahly Benghazi 4-0 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The first leg of this clash ended goalless in Egypt.
“It was an important win for the club, especially coming at the end of the year,” Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane said. “To put the team in the group stage was very important. That’s what I highlighted to the boys. I told them that this game isn’t for anybody but the club. The club has been supporting us, so we need to put the club consistently in the group stage. I also told the guys that we need to send a message to Libya to say that South Africa is strong so that when Bafana Bafana goes to play Libya, they shouldn’t be afraid. They can go there and leave without conceding a goal. They don’t have to win. Some of the guys (Al-Ahly Benghazi) play for the national team because it’s one of the biggest clubs there. This win showed that it’s possible and will give confidence to Bafana. My players who play for Bafana will meet these guys. There mustn’t be any fear. That’s the benefit of the Champions League to the nation.”
Sundowns will discover their opponents in the group stage on 28 December. Mosimane will make the trip for the draw for a fourth successive year to represent the only South African team that has achieved this milestone.
“It’s the culture, the mentality and the right thing to do for us to reach the group stage for a fourth time in a row,” Mosimane said. “When we have a team with the board and the president that says we are not complaining about anything, just go for it – we can’t disappoint. He (Patrice Motsepe) has been supporting (playing in the) Champions League for a long time.
“We don’t have an excuse to not at least take this team to the group stage of the Champions League because it is important for players like Phakamani (Mahlambi) and Lebohang Maboe to play in the Champions League.”
“It’s also important for us as a team because we are a team in construction. You must remember that we are still building. But the best thing that could happen to this team is that while still building, let them play in the Champions League to gain experience. The six games in the group stage will prepare them for next year. This year, let’s be honest, we’re building the team to find the right combinations.”