Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns defender Mosa Lebusa says they won't be complacent against Al Merrikh SC in their last group stage game of the CAF Champions League as they are chasing a personal record after qualifying for the quarter-final.
The 2016 champions have enjoyed an impressive outing in the group stage of the African showpiece this season. They are bound for a top finish in Group A after bagging 13 points in the last five matches, following four wins and one draw.
Having secured that top finish meant the Brazilians would have an advantage of playing the first leg of the quarter-final away from home before hosting the return clash. However, they’ll host the Sudanese side on Saturday with a point to prove.
Downs have only finished with a 100% record once in the group stage, two seasons ago under then coach Pitso Mosimane. But they could achieve that feat if they beat Merrikh at the FNB Stadium at 3pm.
Last season, Downs found themselves in a similar position as they qualified for the quarter-final with a game to spare. But the rotation of players in their final group stage match against CR Belouizdad cost them as they lost 2-0 at home.
“We learned from what happened last season,” Lebusa said. “We’ll try by all means to keep the 100% record in the group stage. It’s not going to be easy. One would say since we’ve already qualified, we’d have to take our foot off the pedal."
But Lebusa says “that’s not the case with us. But we’ll give it our all and make sure that we keep our 100% record". Their march to an unbeaten streak has been impressive thus far, especially after beating Al Ahly in back-to-back matches.
The Brazilians last win over the reigning champions, Al Ahly, was impressive. So much so that it was at home, the FNB Stadium, where they had a handful of supporters backing them in the stands after the relaxation of the Covid-19 regulations.
But Downs are set to welcome more fans at the Calabash after the president reopened the stadium to its 50% capacity. But before entry, the fans would need to produce a vaccination certificate or a valid PCR test not later than 72 hours.
“I think it’s a massive boost for us,” Lebusa said. “We missed playing in front of the fans. It’s going to be a great game for us and for the fans as well. We are really happy that we’ll finally get to play in front of them, especially after a long time.”
Progressing to the quarter-final of the Champions League has all but put Downs in a firm position to win four trophies. They’ve already won the MTN8, while they are top of the log in the league and are in the Nedbank Cup last eight.
Meanwhile, Downs are posed to be joined by Mosimane's side Al Ahly in the quarter-final from group A. The Red Devils are second in the group and will only need one point from their encounter against Al Hilal, who are third, to go through.