“They’ve been good. They have helped us. They have made noise. They have carried us”
MAMELODI Sundowns will not take their feet off the pedal when they face Wydad Casablanca tomorrow at Lucas Moripe Stadium despite both teams having qualified for the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League.
Wydad eliminated the Brazilians in the semi-finals of the Champions League last year and ended their journey in the quarter-finals in 2017 when Sundowns were the reigning champions. This has resulted in this match being a tense affair due to the close nature of the results and the competitive spirit in both camps.
Sundowns have an edge over Wydad this year. The Brazilians are two points clear at the top of Group C, and should they get a draw tomorrow they will finish as No 1 and become the first South African side to finish the group stage without defeat.
“The game against Wydad is forever competitive, it’s a derby of some sort,” Mosimane said. “As much as we have both qualified, you will see on Saturday that those games are never easy.
“There is a lot of pride at stake, bragging rights. But more importantly, what is really important is who finishes first in the group.
“You don’t want to finish first because of the sake of it. You want to finish first because we want to avoid the No 1s in other groups, the Esperances and (TP) Mazembes.
“That’s what we are going to fight for, basically it’s like fighting to qualify.”
The afternoon kick-off works in favour of Sundowns as the North Africans play most of their games at night. This game was originally scheduled for tonight but was moved to tomorrow at 3pm at Sundowns’ request.
“They’ve been good. They have helped us. They have made noise. They have carried us,” Mosimane said about the club’s supporters.
“They are our 12th player. But the challenge is to match Wydad. If we are expected to match Wydad on the pitch, as the players and technical team, I would like to believe that our supporters also want to put the challenge against Wydad. You see how they fill the stadium, the noise they make.
“I have a picture of their supporters with drums. They have about six. We have three now, we are moving up a little bit. Those drums make a lot of noise. That’s the challenge. They sang for us. They gave us a standing ovation. They chanted my name. It was humbling.
“We need to show, as the yellow nation, that we can match or do better. That’s the challenge to my people.”
Wydad supporters chanted Mosimane’s name after the game when Sundowns visited them, but underneath that friendly atmosphere is a high level of competitiveness.
“This is a big game,” Mosimane said. “You don’t need to psyche up the players. There is a lot pride at stake. The players want to play this game. It’s a game that our players want to play in, our supporters want to see, and the continent is waiting for it.
“North Africa will be watching, not just Morocco. It’s a game that Egypt and Tunisia will be watching because any of those teams are capable of going to the semi-finals.
“It’s a big game!”