Mamelodi Sundowns’ experienced rightback, Anele Ngcongca, is confident that the Brazilians can still bounce back from their slow start in the Caf Champions League to book a place in the knockout stage.
The Brazilians have collected just two points from their first three games with matters compounded by the shock defeat to AS Togo-Port in Lome on Tuesday. But the 2016 African champions still have to host the Togolese side and Horoya. The remaining away match is a trip to Morocco to face the reigning African champions, Wydad Casablanca who sit at the top of Group C with five points. Horoya also has five points and AS Togo-Port has three points.
“We’ve let ourselves down by not winning in Togo,” Ngcongca said. “It was a game that we could have wrapped up in the first half. As you know, football is a funny sport. If you don’t take your chances you get punished. We had an opportunity to study them. We did our homework on them and everything that was spoken about at training came out in the game. But look, the group is still open. We’ve got three games left, which we have to win. The two games at home are must-win games. We are going back to the drawing broad and we will prepare well for the game on Friday next week.”
Sundowns have been in a similar situation before. In the 2001 Champions League, Bafana BaStyle collected two points from their first three matches. They bounced back, collected seven points in the last three games in a group that featured Esperance and TP Mazembe and then went all the way to the final. But before Sundowns host AS Togo-Port next week, they will take on Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup on Saturday. Pitso Mosimane and the technical team will give some of the players who didn’t travel to Togo a run in this match while also assessing the new signings.
“Sundowns doesn’t play any friendly matches,” Ngcongca said. “Any team that we play against bring their A-game and we also play to win. We played a friendly against Township Rollers and they came with the desire to win and so did we. Sundowns has a winning mentality. Every game that we play, we play to win. The Chiefs game will see us coming up with our former teammates like Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro. It’s going to be a crucial game for them. We are ready for them.”