JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns will travel to Congo Brazzaville tomorrow confident that they have their Caf Champions League opponents figured out.
The Brazillians are up against Congolese champions AS Otoho d’Oyo at the Stade Omnisport Marien Ngouabi on Sunday.
Captain Hlompho Kekana assured the club’s followers that they are ready.
“We’ve watched their videos and what we picked up is that they look like an aggressive side. They play with three strikers and we will work on dealing with them.”
Sibusiso Vilakazi added that the Brazilians have worked on ways to render the opposition ineffective.
“We saw videos of the opponents and how they play, looked at how they attack and we will see how we can defend to minimise and manage their attacking situations.”
According to Vilakazi, their opponents are not dissimilar to other sides they have encountered in the continent’s premier club knockout competition.
“They are very physical, they play the ball up front like Lobi Stars and Vita.”
Coach Mosimane concurred and described the Congo outfit as being “very powerful”.
To counter those physical teams, Mosimane has in the past gotten his team to use their skills to prevail. But when the need to also rough it up has arisen, Sundowns have not been found wanting.
“The key is to select the personnel that is able to deal with those kind of teams.”
And such is the strength in depth at his disposal that the coach popularly referred to as Jingles will have no headache coming up with a team to do the job in the Congo.
Never one to leave anything to chance, Mosimane is also aware of the conditions they are set to face.
“Their pitch is not flat but we’re not going to complain. We will get on with the game, make sure that we don’t lose and (at worst) get a draw with a goal. A 1-1 draw would be better.”
Sundowns though are going to the Congo with the sole intent of rendering the tie a no contest before the second leg clash.
“We have been in the Champions League for a very long time and we need to start winning away (from home). We have done it against Vita and Zamalek in the past and we have to go to such matches with the mentality we want to beat the opposition in their backyard.”
With Sundowns celebrating their 50th anniversary next year, nothing will put the cherry on their cake better than a second success in the competition.
But to do that they first have to get over the difficult hurdle that their Congolese opposition presents and then be ready for much harder ones later.
With Mosimane’s impeccable research and preparations, the Sundowns players have no reason to feel they are going into the unknown and should they not be victorious, ignorance or lack of knowledge on the opposition will not be one of the reasons.@Tshiliboy