Mamelodi Sundowns are gearing up for their CAF Champions League Group Stage opener this evening against Sudanese outfit Al-Hilal at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Masandawana are in their final stages of preparations to meet their first opponents in their CAF Champions League quest, Al-Hilal Omdurman. Downs head into this game filled with confidence from their two back-to-back victories and are currently enjoying their dominant presence in the domestic league. Zambian international goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene has been at the helm of The Brazilians’ in the opening of Downs’ campaign for 2022. Mweene outlined the opposition, stating that their opponent’s new signings will be the difference.
“They’ve strengthened their team with the signing of new players such as Malawi international Gerald Phiri who played for Baroka FC last season, there’s a guy from Nigeria who was playing at Cape Town City, so you can see that they are strengthening their team and it won’t be the same game as last season. Looking at their team they are getting stronger and stronger, it’s not the same team we played with last time, it’s the same type of play but with different players.”
The Sudan national team was amongst those who participated in the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon being placed in group D, however were unfortunate not to make it past the group stages as they finished in third place. “When you look at their team, most of the players were with the national team in the AFCON which makes it a team which is tough to play with. They’ve got a lot of players as well whose work rate is high, we just have to be smart and dictate the play. “ Said Mweene.
He added: “It won’t be easy, there is no easy team in the group stages and for us we just have to make sure that we bury the little chances that we get – that would be very important. We are at home, I think everyone in camp is excited that we’re starting with the Champions League. We’ve been looking forward to this and now it’s time to do what we have to do and that’s to put Sundowns into the quarter finals, semi finals and hopefully into the finals because we’ve been doing well, reaching quarter finals then out, and semi finals then out, but we want to go beyond the quarters and semis now, we need to go to the finals.”
The Brazilians’ goalie is enthusiastic about the journey that’s about to take place, saying that their past experience in this competition will lead the team to greener pastures.
“The most important thing we wanted was to make it to the group stages, we managed to do that as a team, and the feeling in camp I think is that we wan’t to go beyond the quarter finals, semi fails. It’s not an easy group, we’ve got Al-Hilal, there’s Al-Merrikh, Al-Ahly and then there’s us. It’s not an easy group, we just need to work extra hard and get the points. I think by now we know how to get out of the group stages because we’ve been there three or four times now.”
Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with Al-Hilal Omdurman tonight in the CAF Champions League round 1 of 2 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Kick off is at 18h00 (CAT) and this game will be televised live on SuperSport.