Mamelodi Sundowns Co-Coach Manqoba Mngqitihi has delivered his reaction to the CAF Champions League draw that took place on Tuesday afternoon in Cairo, Egypt. The Brazilians were drawn against defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt, Al Hilal and Al Merrikh, both of Sudan.
“My impression of the draw will always be the most difficult to comprehend because one; once you get into the last-16 it’s always difficult to make a choice as to who you would want to play against. All of the teams that are there are probably 75 if not 90% of them have won the Champions League before, so there’s no chance of avoiding anyone.”
“You just have to soldier on, give it our best shot and understand that at this stage of the competition everybody who’s here is looking to win it, so just garner yourself up and focus on making sure your team is strong enough to be able to compete until the end.”
The six-match campaign begins on the weekend of 11-12 February 2021 where Sundowns will welcome Al Hilal to Pretoria. The team will then face back-to-back away trips to Sudan and Egypt to take on Al Merrikh and Al Ahly respectively. The reverse leg of fixtures begins on the weekend of 11-12 on matchday 4 with a home fixture against Al Ahly in a repeat of The Brazilian’s last match in last season’s tournament. Matchdays 5 will see a home game against Al Merrikh before the final round of fixtures sees another trip to North Africa to play Al Hilal in the return leg.
“The only challenge with the group is that it involves extensive travel to Sudan and that might be the only challenge for us, but you cannot ask for any other team in the Champions League, because if you look at the other groups you will soon realise that they all have stiff competition.
“The group that we are in is a very interesting group, we will fight very hard to pull through. We are confident as the technical team and players that the group that we have is capable of helping us through.”
On what he is expecting from the teams in the group, Coach Manqoba acknowledged the fierce competition that lies ahead for The Brazilians.
“The teams we are playing are all well coached. Al Ahly are the biggest team in Africa. Al Hilal are one of the most formidable teams in the Champions League — they are always in the group stage, always pushing for the quarterfinals. We haven’t played Al Merrikh but it’s the same story as Sundowns, Chiefs and Pirates in SA when you compare them and Hilal in Sudan.
“No game will be easy and it will demand a lot from the group, but I am very confident in the coaches I work with, as well as the support staff and technical team and more than confident in the players.”