Pitso Mosimane says he is team is ready for their next challenge. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Pitso Mosimane is bracing himself for a bruising battle when Mamelodi Sundowns take on Angola’s Petro de Luanda at Lucas Moripe Stadium tomorrow in their opening group stage match of the CAF Champions League.

The Brazilians are in a tough group that also has the troubled USM Alger which is on the brink of extinction due to the owner’s financial troubles. The Champions League could be a perfect opportunity for the Algerian club to brush aside it’s troubles and give their fans something to cheer for. The group is completed by a familiar foe - Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca who have broken Sundowns’ hearts a number of times in the last three years. But first, there is the Angolan side that visits Sundowns in a match that kicks off at 9pm.

“They are big boys,” Mosimane said. “They have a big boy at centreback, a big boy on the right wing and big boy as a striker. They are a very strong team in terms of physique. They are very strong on combats. But you know the Champions League is not the same as the league. You don’t play it very, very nice. Who cares how well you play, as long as you’ve got the three points. Sundowns isn’t where we want it to be, don’t worry about frills and decorations and all that, you just need to win the game.”

The Brazilians’ campaign in the group stage of the Champions League has been a mixed bag. When they won the cup in 2016, their success was based on a solid home record where they scored a minimum of two goals in Atteridgeville. The following year that was turned upside down, they made up for their underwhelming home record with a good display on the road. Mosimane knows which he would choose between this campaign.

“If you don’t win your home games in the Champions League, forget it,” Mosimane said. “Do you think that you are going to go to Angola and win? In the last match? We don’t want to wait until then (to secure our place in the knockout stage). Get the nine points at home, somewhere, somehow along the line get two points and you are on top of the log. It’s proven mathematically.”

The club’s success in the Champions League has cemented their place as one of the big boys of continental football. Sundowns are now known and respected in countries like Egypt and Morocco - countries that have dominated the continent’s inter-club competitions. But that good run comes at a price as it’s a daunting task to balance continental dominance and domestic success.

“To win the league in South Africa and to win the Champions League, you need a super team,” Mosimane said. “You need a super team because you have games in hand, and you travel. How do you balance this game (against AmaZulu) and the Champions League game (four days later)? If you play the same team, you get injuries and suspensions and you don’t have a fresh team against the Angolans. It’s not easy.”

Football Reporter