JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is bracing himself for a physical and bruising battle with Congo’s AS Otoho in the return leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary round.
The Brazilians have to overturn a 2-1 deficit to advance to the last qualifying round of the Champions League to book a place in the group stage for the fourth season in a row. Sundowns’ PSL clash with Cape Town City, was moved forward to Tuesday to give them more time to prepare for the continent’s premier club competition.
Sundowns did their regeneration yesterday and have been given a rest today. They will train at the match venue, Lucas Moripe Stadium, tomorrow to fine-tune their preparations for Saturday.
“We know this programme,” Mosimane said. “We can never complain that it’s heavy. If you want to play Champions League, this is what you are going to get, and everybody gets the same. We should be able to score a goal or two on Saturday. It’s not going to be easy, but if you break the ice and score early it is much better because they can’t be sitting back. They have to come out or otherwise they will lose the game.
We should accept that we aren’t going to play well in every game. We were a little bit sloppy against Cape Town City.”
Sundowns will be without Hlompho Kekana who was sent off in the first leg in Congo.
The Sundowns skipper scored a scorcher against City in the 1-1 draw on Tuesday. Kekana’s early goal helped Sundowns settle against a team that has troubled them in the past. They will need an early goal on Saturday to settle and ensure that Otoho play football as a 1-0 win will be enough for the Pretoria-based team to advance to the next round.
“They are strong boys. Big boys! The Champions League will always have big boys,” Mosimane said.
“That’s when you have to talk about the set pieces that you now need to really make sure that we have the right height for that game. We played well against them when it was 10 against 11. We had possession and we even managed to score when it was 10 against 11. If we can manage to emulate the game against (Bloemfontein) Celtic and SuperSport (United), we should be okay.
“They are going to sit back here and park the bus. You know the story. But we have to go around it, we can dismantle it. Hopefully the boys will be fresher.”
Sundowns’ start to the season has been a mixed bag. They are in the semi-finals of the MTN8 and opened their league title defence with a win over their Tshwane rivals SuperSport. But a loss in their opening match of the Champions League and draws with Chippa United and City have taken the sting out of their bite.
“I am not unhappy with the point against Cape Town City if I look at the game, the way it went,” Mosimane said. “I can be unhappy that we didn’t win, but I must be realistic and say that they played well. We have to give them credit. They held on.
If you compare this to last year, we won against them last year. This is a setback if you compare. But you’ll never know, maybe we will win more in the second round. We didn’t look that fresh, but it’s normal because of back-to-back matches.”