Mamelodi Sundowns will look to overcome longtime African stalwarts Al Ahly. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
If South African teams were to curate hell, Egypt’s Red Devils, Al Ahly, would be the centrepiece.

Al Ahly have tormented SA teams in continental football and laid waste to the country’s giants.

Kaizer Chiefs were humbled by the Egyptians in the 2002 Caf Super Cup. Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns were denied continental supremacy by Al Ahly who beat them in the 2013 and 2001 Champions League finals respectively.

The Brazilians have an opportunity to avenge that defeat when they meet Al Ahly next month in the quarter-finals of the continent’s premier club competition.

It’s a mammoth task, but if there’s any SA team that can do it - it’s Sundowns. The Brazilians are in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the third time in four seasons.

No SA team has done that, just like no team from the country has played at the Club World Cup, won eight league titles in the PSL-era and qualified for five successive appearances in the Champions League.

The Brazilians are trailblazers of some sort.

A victory over the Egyptians would confirm that, especially since this is their worst season under coach Pitso Mosimane.

In what has been a pedestrian season for the reigning league champions, being pitted against Al Ahly has thrust them in the fast lane of continental football.

Mosimane, the obsessive serial winner, will want to get the better of the Egyptians to continue his ascendance as the best SA coach.

Jingles said that this season was just to prepare Sundowns for the next one where they will not only fight to conquer the continent, but also wipe the floor with rivals in SA.

Even though they are “struggling”, Sundowns sit at the top of the league standings and are among the best eight teams in Africa.

This should be a sense of pride for Mosimane, that they can keep up with the best in SA and the continent while they are still finding themselves.

Sundowns are a team under construction with a number of new faces still finding their feet and adjusting to the new demands.

Lebohang Maboe and Emiliano Tade have made a seamless transition to their new home since relocating from different parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Next season they will pack an even bigger punch once they are used to their new surroundings.

Al Ahly will be a good test of where this Sundowns team is at.

Al Ahly won the 2013 Champions League having played no domestic football, due to the political instability that rose from the Arab Spring that first banned fans and then local football entirely.

Sundowns are a poor version of Al Ahly under Mosimane.

They don’t know struggle and a transition period much, they know dominance.

But their dominance also has room for defeats which is why they have finished runners-up twice and won the league three times.

Al Ahly can show them how to hide their weakness and continue to set the tone.

IOL Sport

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