Mamelodi Sundowns to fight fire with fire in Egypt
Africa / 13 April 2019, 12:00pm / Football Reporter
Coach Pitso Mosimane was quick to respond to the question of whether he now believes Mamelodi Sundowns can win the CAF Champions League after humiliating Al Ahly at Lucas Moripe Stadium last week.
“I always believed that we can win the Champions League, anytime, any day,” a confident Mosimane said.
The Brazilians thumped CAF’s Club of the Century 5-0 in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, handing them their biggest defeat in the tournament’s history.
Sundowns put on a show, outplaying and out-thinking the 40-time Egyptian champions.
The Brazilians have to complete the job today (6pm kick-off) at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria to advance to the last four.
It won’t be easy as Al Ahly are not only fighting to overturn this scoreline, but also to restore their dignity. The embarrassing defeat shook Al-Ahly to the core.
The club’s president Mahmoud El-Khatib met with the players and the technical team, asking them to explain themselves for embarrassing such a proud institution.
“It’s going to be difficult,” Mosimane said.
“We need to try and fight fire with fire. As people say, there’s always a first time. The first leg was the first time we beat Al Ahly.
“I hope that we keep our integrity. I hope that we protect the big work that we have done. We don’t have a guarantee (of a win) but it’s all in the mind. We should believe in the way we play, but we need to double our efforts.”
Mosimane and everyone associated with Sundowns has been preaching humility, saying that they shouldn’t get carried away by their first leg win because if there’s a team that can overturn a 5-0 defeat it’s Al-Ahly.
The Egyptian giants are head and shoulders above their peers in continental football. They have defied many odds to win the Champions League a record eight times.
But in Mosimane, they seem to have found their match this season.
“We wont let this lead slip,” Mosimane said.
“With me as a coach, we will lose only because these guys were really, really good but not because of the attitude and the mentality. I’ll never let that go. No ways!”
Al Ahly will attack Sundowns from the onset, which means that they will be vulnerable at the back.
Mosimane will pack the attack with fast players which could see Phakamani Mahlambi start against his former team. Mahlambi, Thapelo Morena, Lyle Lakay, Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane are all speed merchants who will trouble the Egyptians.
Mahlambi will have an extra spring in his step, returning to his old home to prove that Al-Ahly erred in letting him go. The 21-year-old punished the Egyptians by putting the final nail in their coffin, scoring the last goal in the 5-0 drubbing.
Mosimane lost his composure and ran the length of almost half a pitch to celebrate with Mahlambi.
“When I recruited Phaka, it was very difficult,” Mosimane said.
“The boy was always saying to me, ‘coach, awungithathe, awungilande (please take me, fetch me from here). I am in the jungle, alone. Nobody talks to me. I don’t even go to training. Nobody asks where I am’. It was emotional for a 21-year-old to be left like that.
“I said to Phaka, I will do my best. That goal was emotional for him. It was emotional for me too because I struggled with Phaka and I am yet to get Phaka right.
“I put him there and said, ‘go score a goal, send a message’. That goal meant a lot for him and for me. I hope that he scores in Egypt.”