Another continental assignment awaits Mamelodi Sundowns this weekend, who are visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo to play against TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League. The Brazilians come from a victory in the CAFCL after beating FC Nouadhibou 2-0 at home and will be looking to remain on the summit of the table by collecting all points on offer when they meet their counterparts.

Head Coach, Rulani Mokwena, said his side will head into the encounter with a winning spirit, which is the club’s culture, but at the same time, respecting the opponent.

“We come with the Mamelodi Sundowns spirit which is a competitive spirit that is here to win, but also that’s governed by principles that speak of respect and humility for the opposition. We know we are playing against a very good team who are doing very well in their domestic league, having won eleven games and being second on the log, with some very good players who can create a lot of problems for you. We came here knowing very well that we are playing against five times CAFCL champions in their home ground and we expect a very difficult game.” he said.

The two sides last met in 2021 and it is the visitors who walked away victorious. When asked what might have changed since their last meeting with The Ravens, Coach Rulani said that their rivals now have almost a new squad. He stated: “what has changed is that TP Mazembe are now playing a much younger team. You make an analysis and you see that there are only two players that are still in the team from the last time we met. That’s probably the only difference.”

Furthermore, the Bafana Ba Style coach stated that all the information he has on the opponent is from the hard work that the coaching stuff have put into doing their research to help the team perform better, as it won’t be an easy game.

“We can have the information, which is the responsibility of we the coaches. Everything I say here is based off preparations and hours that went into watching TP Mazembe’s games. We understand that the number one thing is to come here and be prepared because coming here can be daunting. The atmosphere and hostility created by the supporters means that we have to make sure that we are well prepared because preparation eliminates fear. So it’s not about how to beat TP Mazembe, it’s about performing to beat them.”

Coach Rulani’s side has been playing previous games without a few players that have been laid off due to injuries but in the same breath, some have made their return into the squad and will be looking to assist the team in winning this encounter. Coach Rulani concluded by praising his technical team that has assisted in ensuring that the players’ injuries are attended to with great importance.

“Fortunately we have players that have recovered and are available for selection but of course, when you have the schedule that we have, there’s an issue of wear and tear where we lose a couple of players. The good thing is our technical stuff, the medical team, sports science department and conditioning coaches have done an exceptional job in making sure that our players are always ready for the next performance and to try and keep them injury-free. I have to give credit to all of them for the incredible work that they are doing behind the scenes,” he concluded.

Mamelodi Sundowns do meet TP Mazembe on Saturday afternoon at Stade TP Mazembe. Kick-off is at 15H00.