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Sundowns rooting for Chiefs to join them in ‘land of the living’

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Fellow South African Champions League rivals Kaizer Chiefs are also in the running for a place in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League.

Rhulani Mokwena, joint head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

MAMELODI Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena relied on biblical insights when responding to media questions yesterday ahead of the CAF Champions League Group B match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday afternoon when they host Algerian visitors CR Belouizdad (kick-off 3pm).

Sundowns presently have a near-full squad to choose from, with very few players on the injury list or serving suspension.

In recent matches, they have been able to field weakened teams because they were not under pressure to win matches.

Today’s clash will be their final Group B match, and unbeaten Sundowns have already qualified for the quarter-final round. As a result, Sundowns again have the luxury of fielding second-stringers in the starting XI and keeping key players fresh for later games.

This situation prompted a question from a pressman who emphasised that Sundowns had so many players to choose from. Mokwena, who was Sundowns’ frontman at the presser responded: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Fellow South African Champions League rivals Kaizer Chiefs are also in the running for a place in the quarter-finals, and to this end, Mokwena was probed on his thoughts about the chances of two Mzansi teams in the quarter-finals for the first time in history.

“It will be good for Chiefs to join us in the ‘Land of the Living’ (a biblical reference for quarter-finals),” said Mokwena.

Sundowns’ run-on XI was to be decided after yesterday’s training session, and players who came across as industrious are the ones who were likely to crack the nod.

Mokwena said it is vital to send out a strong team so that Sundowns can attain a winning result. “It is crucial that we go into the quarter-finals on a sound footing.

“When you reach the last-eight round, work ethic and values are among the minute details that make a difference. The margin for error is very small.

“We have the added responsibility to go for a win in every match, regardless of the competition. It is no different with the Champions League. The head that bears the crown feels the pressure.”

CR Belouizdad do not have the same luxury that Sundowns have. They must win today if they wish to reach the knock-out phase of the competition.