“At Sundowns, I think it’s always been like that; where we travel earlier, and give ourselves enough time to acclimatise to the situations,’’
Mamelodi Sundowns’ talisman Sibusiso ‘Vila’ Vilakazi might be wary of the danger that their opponents in Friday’s Caf Champions League, Wydad Casablanca, pose in their backyard – but he remains optimistic that they can get a positive result at Stade Mohammed V, kick-off at 8pm.
The last time Vilakazi and company visited Casablanca; it was in last season’s CAFCL quarter-finals return leg where they unfortunately succumbed to a 3-2 loss in a penalty shoot-out after the fixture had ended 1-1 on aggregate.
“We didn’t have a favourable result the last time we went there,’’ Vilakazi admits. “This time around, we’d like to go there and try to change that situation and get a result. It would be a very huge morale boost to beat them at home but we know that it won’t be easy. They are a very good team, that’s organised. That’s why it’s been proven in the past as they give us problems.’’
Sundowns left South Africa for Morocco on Monday morning via Ghana and landed around tea-time in Casablanca, yesterday. The period of three days in the north prior to the match will give the Brazilians at least sufficient time to adjust to conditions.
“At Sundowns, I think it’s always been like that; where we travel earlier, and give ourselves enough time to acclimatise to the situations,’’ Vilakazi said. “We’ll also get a chance to go and check-out the surface conditions earlier as well.’’
The Brazilians’ have been in the continental set-up for the past four years, and they’ve made their mark so far, as they were crowned African champions two years ago – before being dethroned by Casablanca. The Brazilians have won two Absa Premiership titles in the last four seasons as well. Vilakazi believes that whoever comes in always plays a huge role in helping the team succeed prior to the congested fixtures.
“Juggling between continental football and domestic has really been interesting,’’ Vilakazi explained. “With the squad that we’ve been able to assemble, I think we have the right players (that will allow us to compete week-in an out). They are looking very fresh, sharp and we are looking forward to all the upcoming contests.’’