Africa / 27 December 2019, 12:00pm / Bonginkosi Ndadane
The last time Mamelodi Sundowns were in the same group as an Algerian team in the CAF Champions they faced a tough trip to the north African country, but at the end of the campaign they were African champions.
Pitso Mosimane wouldn’t mind a repeat of what happened in 2016, just so long as the Brazilians can claim a second Champions League crown.
Three years ago the Brazilians were drawn into a tough group that had Egypt’s Zamalek, Enyimba of Nigeria and Algeria’s ES Setif.
They started their group stage campaign in Setif, running the Algerians ragged.
The home fans were so angry at being outplayed that they threw objects on the field which led to the game being suspended before it eventually finished. ES Setif were kicked out of the tournament and slapped with a ban.
Sundowns used that treatment as fuel to go all the way to winning the Champions League.
USM Alger fans aren’t likely to throw objects on the field tomorrow should Mosimane’s men outplay their team. But they will create a hostile environment that will make it difficult for Sundowns.
USM Alger is after all coming from a troubled period that almost saw the club being liquidated while players weren’t paid their full salary for some months.
“It’s going to be a tough game there in Algiers,” Mosimane said. “We have to fight.
But they also know that we can get good results against Zamalek, Al-Ahly, Esperance and Wydad Casablanca. They know that these aren’t just any people, they will have to do their homework. If they don’t do their homework, it’s a problem. We saw them against Wydad in Algiers and in Angola against Petro de Luanda.
“To be honest, I think that the Angolans should have won that match.
“That gives us confidence that we have to come back still on top of the log. That’s important.”
He continued, “When we play here, match day four, we need to also stay on top of the log.
“We can’t drop points in Algiers, we must get three or one so that we keep Wydad behind us. Hopefully the goals will help us to stay on top of the log.
“We should be able to win here when we host USM Alger so that when Wydad comes for the last game, we aren’t fighting for qualification.
“We should be fighting to be at the top of the log so that we can avoid Esperance, TP Mazembe, Al-Ahly who are there.
“Those will still be at the top. So that you pave your way to the last four.”
Sundowns are in Algeria with Lyle Lakay. The versatile player was given the weekend off, missing the game against Polokwane City, as he was getting married.
“We had to respect him,” Mosimane said. “I don’t want to be that coach who is responsible for the boy not getting married because of the game against Polokwane City. No! No! I can’t be in that space. I said go for it my boy. The bride wouldn’t have been happy with me.”
Lakay’s wife will however have to wait for the honeymoon.
“No honeymoon! I mean, you want to go on a honeymoon now? Are you a professional player or what? He chose to marry in the middle of the season, so he must come and play now,” Mosimane said.
“We need him. He’ll do the honeymoon in May. That one (playing this weekend), he has to give me back.”