AHEAD of this afternoon’s CAF Champions League quarter-final home leg against Egyptian giants Al Ahly, coach Pitso Mosimane – the Mamelodi Sundowns coach – has urged his players to stick to their DNA.
Given that Al Ahly are the eight-time winners of the competition, they come with experience and the know-how of being the most successful club on the continent. But Sundowns don’t expect to be pushovers in their own backyard, Atteridgeville’s Lucas Moripe Stadium. Kick-off is at 3pm.
“It’s a big club,” Mosimane said. “We have to tread carefully, but what is important is to play the same way we have played against Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) here in the group stages. The same way we played against Lobi Stars (Nigeria) and ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast). That’s what we need to do.”
The Red Devils, as Al Ahly are affectionately known by their fanatic fans – the ultras – finished top of Group D, while Sundowns managed a runners-up spot behind Wydad in Group A to be pitted against the Egyptians in the quarter-finals.
As a result of being the table toppers, Al Ahly had what can be seen as an advantage to host the second leg.
“But we have to take the game to them. They are smart, very highly technical with good tactics and they are a team with big, top individual players. I am speaking about Junior Ajayi, Ramadan Sobhi and Ayman Ashraf,” said the coach.
“They have good movements. They look after the ball, they are a perfect team in terms of play. But even a perfect team, like Manchester City, there are games that they lose. You don’t win them all.”
Indeed Al Ahly can be beaten, although Sundowns’ record against them doesn’t paint a pretty picture – something coach Mosimane wants to change. The last time the two sides met was in the preliminary round of the Champions League back in 2007, and the Red Devils were 4-2 aggregate winners.
“They did lose to Simba in the group stages and we get motivation from that,” Mosimane said with confidence.
“When they played against AS Vita they also lost. So I think it is doable, it’s possible. You know they always say it looks impossible until somebody does it. I believe Sundowns is a good team. If we play the way we always play in the Champions League at home…I mean we scored two against Wydad, but let’s be honest, it could have been four. We scored three against ASEC, we scored three against Lobi Stars. I am not saying we will score three against Al Ahly, but if we play the same way and we believe then why not? I’d love to.”
Mosimane also confirmed that Anthony Laffor will be unavailable for the massive clash because he has to go for a knee surgery. He said Phakamani Mahlambi, a former Al Ahly striker, had also returned to training just in time to face his old teammates having missed the Absa Premiership encounter against Orlando Pirates on Monday due to a hamstring strain.