Mamelodi Sundowns are set for Southern Africa this weekend where they will look to resume their CAF Champions League battle with a first leg win.
The Brazilians will be looking to keep up with their brilliant form on Saturday when they meet with Petro de Luanda in the quarter finals of the African elite competition. Bafana Ba Style were in a similar situation in the previous season after reaching the top 8 of the tournament with only one game lost, however their journey was cut short at this stage. Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena of Sundown’s gave an analysis of his opponents in Luanda:
“We are continuing with the journey and that continuation has brought us to Angola to play against a very good side in Petro. A well coached side with some very good players, very experienced players like [Ricardo] Job [Estévão] the number 11, (Jarade the 29, [Adriano Belmiro Duarte Nicolau] Yano the number 9 upfront [whom is] very aggressive, a box striker [that is] always looking to finish, the defensive midfielder [William da Silva] Soares the number 5, strong, aggressive and gives impetus to the team together with [Petro Pessoa Miguel] the number 14.”
“A strong team, [they are] a very good opponent that plays the game the way we believe football should be played and in a certain way that has a very similar identity to us. They build from the back, they look to press from the top and they also look to dominate the game and have possession. We know what’s at stake and what lies ahead, ours is now to put the final preparations and be a bit more specific in our fine tuning of our schemes to be able to give ourselves the chance to be in South Africa in the second leg with a chance to progress to the semi-finals.”
Masandawana travelled to Angola where they were in fine form as they scored 11 goals in total in their back-to-back encounters, 5 goals were scored in their domestic Cup competition and 6 in the domestic league. According to coach Rulani, the Tshwane giants will be looking to leave no stones unturned in their first leg of the quarter finals away from home.
“The good thing from a psychological perspective is that we come from two very good results where we scored a lot of goals, and in particular the game against Golden Arrows [it] was a good demonstration of how much work we’ve put in from the beginning of the season up until now. [Therefore] from that perspective we come into this game with a lot of confidence, the players understand that we are in a part of the season where every single match counts now, these are what we call ‘games of consequence’.”
“We are a team that’s shown resilience and the ability to stick together in difficult moments, and we know that quarter finals against very good teams – like a team like Petro, there are going to be some difficult moments on Saturday, and ours is to make sure that we are ready to be resilient and to soldier on and fight through for the badge, for our supporters, and try to represent them as beat as we can. From a physical perspective we did a lot of work already from regenerating the team, fortunately the flight was only three and a half hours so there’s very little accumulation of fatigue in relation to traveling.”
Mamelodi Sundowns do battle with Petro de Luanda in the CAF Champions League quarter finals leg 1 of 2 on Saturday, 16 April at The Estádio 11 de Novembro. Kick off is 18H00, live on SuperSport channel 209.