03 May 2018 05:05
South African football champions elect, Mamelodi Sundowns, have put their league championship celebration on hold with the crucial Total CAF Champions League encounter against holders Wydad Athletic Club looming this weekend.
“The Brazilians” clinched the South African premiership title with a game to spare after their closest challengers, Orlando Pirates faltered and handed the title to them last weekend.
Sundowns kick off their group phase with a tough task against the reigning champions at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday in a match that promises end to end action. The Moroccans knocked out Sundowns in the quarter finals on their way to lifting the coveted title last season and will be hoping to put one over the South Africans again.
Buoyed by winning their record eighth league title, the Brazilians are in good mood and with coach Pitso Mosimane’s clear ambitions of reclaiming the Champions League title, Wydad may have a lot on their hands against a highly motivated Sundowns side.
Mosimane, who is also aiming a return to the summit of African club football, says they will be aiming at nothing less than reclaiming the number one spot and thus qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup.
“We have played there twice now and have what the experience although it doesn’t make it any easier because teams have gotten tougher. Our intentions are clear, and it is to win the Champions League because it gives us another shot at the club world cup. It is obviously not easy with all the travelling and the daunting schedule, but we are a club with ambitions and this is just one of them,” said the 53-year-old coach.
Although Sundowns will be without their talisman, Percy Tau who is out on suspension, the Brazilians boast quality replacements in all department and the contender for the player of the season won’t be missed much according to Mosimane who spoke highly of the forward rumoured to be on the chase list of a number of European clubs.
“Tau has done well for us this season. He has been consistent ever since being with us and maybe he does need a bit of rest. Would have been great to have him but remember we still have Khama Billiat who has played in that position before and equally capable of doing the job for us,” says Mosimane.
With their league virtually campaign wrapped up, Mosimane will most likely send a weakened squad to the final match of the season against Bloemfontein Celtics on 12 May as they travel to Togo three days later to face Horoya in their next group C encounter.
The other Group C match will see Togolese debutants AS Port facing Horoya of Guinea in Lome.
04.5.2018 19H00 Alexandria Ahly (Egypt) vs Esperance (Tunisia)
04.5.2018 16H00 Gaborone Township Rollers (Botswana) vs KCCA (Uganda)
04.5.2018 19H00 Algiers MC Alger (Algeria) vs Difaa El Jadidi (Morocco)
05.5.2018 13H00 Lubumbashi TP Mazembe (DR Congo) vs ES Setif (Algeria)
05.5.2018 16H00 Lome AS Port (Togo) vs Horoya (Guinea)
05.5.2018 19H00 Pretoria Sundowns (South Africa) vs Wydad (Morocco)
05.5.2018 13H00 Ndola Zesco (Zambia) vs Swallows (Swaziland)
05.5.2018 16H00 Luanda Primeiro Agosto (Angola) vs Etoile (Tunisia)
*All times are in GMT