Downs united in push for continental glory

It’s been almost 16 years since Mamelodi Sundowns qualified for the CAF Champions League final.

Now Pitso Mosimane and his men have a chance to go back to the promised land. Since Mosimane’s arrival at Sundowns, the Brazilians have been in a quest to change things. They won the Absa Premiership after eight years of trophy drought. Midweek Sundowns set another record aside by qualifying for the MTN8 final after an eight year drought. Sundowns beat Chippa United 1-0 courtesy of an Anthony Laffor goal. Buoyed by the win, Sundowns will want to reach another milestone by making the final for the first time since 2001. The Brazilians have to move a massive obstacle in the form of Zesco United, who they host at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in the second leg semi-final of the CAF Champions League tomorrow night.

Buoyed by their midweek win, Sundowns will want to reach another milestone by making the Champions League final for the first time since 2001. Credit: Reuters

“We are Sundowns. When we see a trophy, we want to lift it. It’s a culture. It’s mentality and it’s in our DNA. We go to Namibia, it’s a pre-season tournament, I said we are lifting the trophy. We played the tournament, Nedbank Ke Yona, we lift the trophy. Whatever trophy is in front of us, we lift the trophy,” said Mosimane.

The former Bafana Bafana coach knows that for Sundowns to lift the coveted Champions League trophy, they have to shrug off Zesco, who lead them by 2-1 from the first leg. Mosimane says the seven-time PSL champions have to win at all costs against the Zambian champions.

“Once you win a few trophies, you start to believe that you can win the cup. To play in the Champions League is the biggest experience we have ever gained. Champions League means sometimes you don’t have to play well but you have to win.

“That’s the character we get from there. We go to Zesco, we are 2-0 down and we have the character in the last 15 minutes to fight for a goal. That’s the character, you go to Setif, Zamalek and you have got to survive. It’s not PSL. It’s a different game,” said Mosimane.

“We learn to play against different patterns and formations. Different mentality strong boys who are arrogant and they impose themselves on you. We need to score a goal. At home we can manage because we know everybody. When you play CAF you get another tactical awareness that you are aware of anything that comes.

“All we have to do is score a goal. That’s all and nothing else.”

Sundowns defence should also be on alert since they face an attacking Zesco. The Zambians like to deploy four players in attack. Two players Jesse Were and Jackson Mwanza have formed a potent combination that is set to keep Sundowns busy tomorrow night. Zesco marksman Mwanza, who scored a brace against Sundowns in the first leg, says they won’t sit back.

“I was happy to score against Sundowns. It’s my duty. It’s my job. As a striker I have to score goals. We are looking to bring the cup home and it will bring pride to the country. We are going to score. We won’t sit. We will go at them. We are going to score. We need to go there. It’s not easy but we need to go,” said Mwanza, who attributed Zesco’s impressive run in the Champions League to the fact that they get underestimated.

“Zesco is a small team. Everyone underrates it. It’s up to us as players to make sure that we give our best. I have been working hard. Every time I score goals. I just wish I continue.”

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