JOHANNEBURG - Al Ahly commander in chief Pitso Mosimane says they cannot afford to rest on their laurels against Mamelodi Sundowns in the return leg of the Caf Champions League quarterfinal this Saturday, despite winning at home in the first leg.
The African champions landed at the OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday morning, three days after hosting the Brazilians to an impressive 2-0 victory in Cairo – thanks to goals in either half from Taher Mohamed and Salah Mohsen.
“It’s an advantage because we have an edge. But it’s halftime and we are leading 2-0. It doesn’t mean anything - football is football. At Ahly we lost 2-0 at halftime and we won the match 3-2. It’s just a small advantage; gives you a little bit of confidence,” Mosimane said.
“It puts a little bit of pressure on the opposition. We’ll see how it goes. Ahly have been to the Lucas Moripe Stadium. Sundowns always go to Lucas Moripe even when I was there. So, they’ve been there. So, it won’t be the first but third time. They always have a good pitch.”
This game will mark Mosimane’s first homecoming to Sundowns since his departure in October to take over the reins at Al Ahly – a side he inspired to a treble which includes the Egyptian Premier League, Egyptian Super Cup and record ninth African crown.
“It was normal. But football is normal. Of course, there were mixed emotions,” said Mosimane after touching down in the country to face his former employers for the first time. “But we’ve played the first match, so we’ve broken the ice. So yeah, it’s fine.”
This will be Al Ahly’s third successive meeting with the Brazilians in the knockout stage of the Pan-African competition. Al Ahly beat Sundowns over the quarterfinal tie last term before meeting Wydad Casablanca and Zamalek in the semifinals and final respectively.
Fresh after their trip to Sundowns, Mosimane and his charges will fly out to Qatar where they’ll face RS Berkane in the Caf Super Cup at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. Mosimane is not fazed by the heavy schedule, though, as they are used to playing after every three days.
“We had five big games. I wouldn’t say the sixth or the seven is not big. But in terms of our short and mid-term goals, we played Ittihad in Alexandria and we got the results. We dropped two points at home against Zamalek. But to get four points against Zamalek is a big one,” he said.
“Against Mamelodi Sundowns we won the first leg. And we are going for the second leg. From here, we’ll be going directly to Qatar. These are big games for us, but in a few days. But it’s our lives in Egypt. We are used to it. We play like that; after every three days.”