“The challenge to Sundowns is whether that was a flash in the pan result.”
THE anger and embarrassment that Al-Ahly suffered when they were thumped 5-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League last year could work in favour of the Brazilians.
That’s the view of Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane. The Brazilians were drawn against CAF’s Club of the Century in the quarter-finals for a second year in a row.
Al-Ahly will host the first leg before coming to Pretoria for the second. There were loud, uncomfortable murmurs when Sundowns’ name came up in the draw in Cairo on Wednesday as Al-Ahly’s opponents. The memory of the drubbing that Sundowns inflicted on Al-Ahly has shaken the Egyptian club to their core.
“There’s lot of rivalry in this match,” Mosimane said. “They are a big team. The players have been saying that we want Sundowns because we want to correct the results, in fact they are saying revenge. If you ask me, did I want to play Al-Ahly I would say no.
“I would have preferred to play Raja (Casablanca) because them and Etoile du Sahel are the ones in the quarter-finals who we haven’t faced Just step in Cairo and you will see what an unbelievable team Al-Ahly are. It’s only Al-Ahly. It’s huge. I think that they are getting too emotional with us, that can probably help us – that we have nothing to prove and they have to prove that they can beat Sundowns.
The challenge to Sundowns is whether that was a flash in the pan result.”
Al-Ahly will be the third north African side Sundowns will face this year. They were in the same group as Wydad Casablanca and USM Alger, and they beat both teams when they visited Pretoria. Sundowns’ superior home record is something that Mosimane takes pride in.
“We played convincingly well against WAC, USM Alger and all I know is that we will play well against Al-Ahly here. The (tricky) game is there. How do you manage that game there, and they will probably say that in Pretoria there is always a problem so let’s finish these people here first before we go to Pretoria. And maybe they play an attack-minded game plan, which could be a problem. We will see.
“I don’t think that they will undermine or underestimate us now. The results last year had a big impact,” Mosimane said.
But before Sundowns can think about Al-Ahly, they have SuperSport United who they will face in the last 32 of the Nedbank Cup tomorrow.
The Tshwane derby will offer Sundowns a tough challenge in their hectic juggling act that also includes the league race.
“At this point in time we can’t make any excuses of juggling three tournaments at the same time,” Mosimane said. “We had the MTN8, Champions League qualifiers and the league, it was the same when we were playing for the Telkom Knockout. We are used to playing three tournaments in a space of seven days. We shouldn’t complain now that it’s Nedbank Cup and there are three tournaments on offer at the same time.
“When you are too ambitious, you get involved in things like this.
“We lost the MTN8 but we got the Telkom Knockout. You’ll never know which one you’ll get. I always ask the club, that can I do a (Liverpool coach, Jurgen) Klopp, it could be easier if I put the Under-23s to play the Nedbank Cup. But it’s not in the culture of the team.
“Our people love the cups. If cups aren’t important, then why did we win the Telkom Knockout? I like this cup because it gives you an opportunity to play continental football.”