It’s time for Mamelodi Sundowns to make their domination in Africa count

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns will need to make their dominance in Africa count to lift the CAF Champions League trophy. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns will need to make their dominance in Africa count to lift the CAF Champions League trophy. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published Sep 13, 2023


After their futile attempts to win the CAF Champions League over the last seven years, Mamelodi Sundowns cannot afford to come up short this season.

Sundowns have been the most dominant club in South Africa, winning six Premiership titles in succession – a record in the PSL era.

While that talks of the results that come with blending the right playing personnel with the right coaching staff, Sundowns are not yet on song.

One of their shortcomings is an inability to take their local dominance into Africa, the Brazilians having last won the Champions League in 2016.

It’s not that they’re not taking the competition seriously – they are just like any other team, struggling to be lucky and consistent at times.

Last season, they crashed out in the semi-finals after drawing 2-2 with Wydad AC on aggregate, as the Moroccans reached the final on away goals.

With luck clearly not on their side, they will have to create their own from the outset this season.

Sundowns open their campaign in the second round of qualifiers against Burundi’s Bumamuru FC on Friday in neutral Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Given their bright start to the league, having won seven games and drawn one since the start of the season, it’s safe to say they’ll be the favourites.

They will have to show their dominance by putting Bumamuru to the sword to set the tone for the rest of the competition.

Sundowns’ unfortunate run last season was also hampered by the fact that they drew games they were supposed to win in the league, resulting in them losing momentum.

But they can’t afford to do that this season, especially in the Champions League, where they will again be tipped to win the crown.

Before the international break, they drew with Kaizer Chiefs in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals – a game they should have won comfortably after dominating from start to finish.

Coach Rulani Mokwena will hope that his troops have learnt from their mistakes and are ready to fire on all cylinders against Bumamuru, who should be there for the taking.

Some of Sundowns’ players will return to their base today having been away on national team duty in the last few days, including goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Mothobi Mvala, Grant Kekana and Aubrey Modiba.

The international break didn’t only give players a chance to represent their national team but it also gave a break to players such as Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane.

The duo missed out on representing Bafana Bafana against Namibia on Saturday and the Democratic Republic of the Congo yesterday due to injury.

That could serve as a blessing in disguise as Mokwena will need a clean bill of health in the next few days when they face Bumamuru, Orlando Pirates in the league and Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 semi-final second leg.

But of course, Sundowns can’t think beyond the clash in Tanzania on Friday.

They need to win there and impose themselves on the rest of the campaign if they want to be African champions once again.