JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns swaggered into Rabat where they will take on Wydad Casablanca tonight in the first leg of their Caf Champions League semi-final even though they are yet to score in Morocco.
Sundowns are also yet to win in Morocco against Wydad who have beaten them on their last three trips to the country.
But there’s a feeling that the winds of change are pushing Sundowns in their march to conquer the continent for a second time. The Brazilians’ confidence stems from what they have done to north African opponents in Pretoria. Sundowns thumped Al Ahly 5-0 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium to hand Caf’s Club of the Century their biggest defeat in the tournament’s history.
Sundowns had never beaten Al Ahly in their four previous meeting before that drubbing. Mosimane said it was about time that his team changed that run, and they did so in record fashion.
He uttered a similar statement leading up to their clash with the Moroccan giants.
“What’s important is to try and score,” Mosimane said. “We haven’t broken that ice. We haven’t scored at Wydad. We need to try and score, try and win. If we don’t win, 1-1 would be nice. Try and score away.
I don’t know what will be the (Wydad) coach’s game plan when we start away because they have started at home in our previous meetings. I know what my game plan is when we start at home. I’ll pass it on him now. It’s his chance to react. I have told the guys, ‘We have to score in Wydad. We have to change the fortunes’.”
Wydad have an edge over Sundowns. The Moroccans have not only won the important games - the second leg of their quarter-final clash in 2017 en-route to winning the Champions League and their last match in the group stage this year that decided the winner of Group A - but they have also won the most number of games in a rivalry that’s become one of the biggest in continental football.
Wydad have won all their three meetings in Morocco 1-0. Sundowns have won two and drawn one in Pretoria. But the Tshwane side have made their home a sort of a slaughterhouse against north African teams. Al Ahly, Zamalek and Wydad have all been beaten at the Lucas Moripe Stadium. Only Esperance of Tunisia have gone to Atteridgeville and left with maximum points.
Sundowns trouble north African teams with their speed, skill, taking the game to them and looking to pick them apart when they open in transition.
It’s this good record that has Sundowns believing that they can bounce back from any setback in Rabat with the deciding leg played at Lucas Moripe Stadium next weekend.
“Let’s be honest, Sundowns have a game plan at home for north Africans and they don’t deal with it well,” Mosimane said. “You have seen it so many times.
That’s what we know and that’s what they know. We know that Sundowns don’t win in Morocco. Those are facts.
I can’t say we will win in Morocco. What’s my reference?”