Mamelodi Sundowns aim to extend their lead in group A of the CAF Champions League

After a win and a draw in their opening round of the group stages, Masandawana head into this clash with four points at the top of the log. The reigning Premier Soccer League champions remained in Cairo after their last encounter against Al-Merrikh a week ago to start their preparations against the Egyptian Red Devils this coming weekend.

“We packed our bags and got ready to head up north to Alexandria where we found a home, a facility that I think we will probably start adopting a lot more, not just for the Champions League but for pre-season as a camp.” Said The Brazilians Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena.

“It’s a facility that’s been used by teams like Atletico Madrid, it’s a facility that allows us to get on with the day to day runnings that we would normally do even when we are at Chloorkop. Some very good recovery resources are available to us, with therapy pools, hydrotherapy pools, sonars with Himalayan salts, and all these things assist us with regards to ensuring that as much as we work very hard on the pitch, we can also retain the freshness of the players and help the bodies to come back a lot faster. We know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m sure the Al-Ahly camp also speaks the same language and they also have an understanding that it’s not going to be an easy game for them.”

Bafana Ba Style have an opportunity to boost their Champions League chances when they visit the current title holders at the Cairo International Stadium. Al-Ahly only managed to walk away with one point in their Champions League launch and sit in second place as they head into this mouthwatering contest. Coach Rulani briefly observed his opponent’s playing style as seen in their current performances at the FIFA Club World Cup competitions.

“It’s very difficult to say, we watched their game [on Tuesday], if you look at their lineup you’re very sure that the two center backs, maybe apart from Yasser [Ibrahim] in that back four, he’s a predominant starter. They could still have a [Amir] Tawfik to play at right-back or a [Mohammed] Hany, they’ve got [Ayman] Ashraf who can play there, they’ve got that left-back or he can play left center half in a back three, they’ve done that quite a bit just before the club world cup and going at the club world cup with the same structure. They were very aggressive even in the club world cup, once they were 1-0 down, in particular the game against Palmeiras, they started with a back 3 but they made changes, not through personnel but through moving certain players within the structure and going into a back four that still had a very aggressive and a very narrow midfield, which is something that is consistent as a feature.”

The points collected in their previous encounters have kept Downs in the race to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League, however, there is still pressure for the team to win their upcoming fixtures. “We are prepared, we know where they are strong, we’ve watched their games and we know that in games like this, preparation also becomes an invisible match because surely there will be a lot of work that goes into preparing for us from the other side.” Expressed Coach Rulani.

He added: “Sometimes with the universe, you’ve got to also put yourself in a position where the universe can think about you when it thinks about who to favor, hence the language of work ethic.”

Coach Rulani also shared insights on the player’s mental state at their new home away from home, saying that the experience of the players has helped them cope with their travelling schedules.

“When you sign up for Sundowns one of the most acceptable factors is that you’re going to spend a lot of times away from home. A good thing is that we’ve got a change room full of players that are used to that, very familiar with that also with whose families are very familiar with that because part to you being away and the last thing you need is regular phone calls providing disturbances about what is happening back home. When you look at where our players are, you see smiles on their faces every day and when you look at their eyes there’s a sense of relaxation, a good sense of anticipating.”

Mamelodi Sundowns battle with Al-Ahly SC on Saturday, 26 February in the CAF Champions League match 3 of group A at the Cairo International Stadium. Kick off is at 21H00, live on SuperSport.

3 Responses
  1. Malandela

    Pls boys just that win away, they know it will be difficult for them here in PTA, Infact have we ever beaten them away, pls help me masandawana amahle and I hope Mweene plays, Onyango makes mistakes at big occasions. I thank you

  2. Skhumba

    We have never beaten them away! Actually we have beaten them once here at home (5 – 0)! Other they managed to draw all the matches that we have played at home against them! But they have beaten in all the games that we have played in Egypt! However i think this time around we can beat them or hold them to a draw! It deepens with the squad selection on the day! Our coaches hold all the keys! At times these 3 wise men can be clueless, for look at how they lined up against the same opponent last time when we lost in Egypt! Even in Pretoria when Al Ahly defended deeply the coaches simply ran out of ideas no how to break their defensive line!

  3. Malandela

    Ngiyakuzwa Skhumba sesiyohlalela ethembeni nje, I don’t wanna settle for a draw bt we hvnt been doin great lately.

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