Wayne Arendse: Sundowns know how Wydad Casablanca move and think
The man at the centre of the most controversial story in South African football this season was bemused at how the matter unfolded.
“I didn’t pay much attention to it,” Mamelodi Sundowns defender Wayne Arendse said.
The 34-year-old was at the centre of Sundowns’ controversial case against the Premier Soccer League’s disciplinary committee for fielding Arendse against Wits in October last year.
That was in contravention of the rules as he wasn’t in the match-day squad, but went from the stands straight into the starting XI after Thapelo Morena’s injury.
“I couldn’t understand some of the things that were said, that I was an ineligible player,” Arendse said.
“It was just boardroom business. I have a PSL card, and I have been playing in the PSL for over 10 years.
“I tried not to focus on it that much. It didn’t faze me. I am glad that the matter has been dealt with.”
The Brazilians avoided being docked points for their act because the match commissioner erroneously approved the decision to field Arendse.
The PSL DC only slapped Sundowns with a fine, bringing finality to what was a controversial chapter of South African football this season.
A docked point could have played a role in deciding where the PSL title would go.
With that chapter gone, Arendse and Sundowns can focus on their biggest assignment this year – the second leg of the Caf Champions League semi-final against Wydad Casablanca at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville today (3pm kickoff).
This match has an element of déjà vu for Arendse. “The situation is a lot like what happened in 2016,” he said.
“We also lost the first leg of the semi-final 2-1 away (in Zambia against Zesco United).
“We turned it around in the second leg, and went all the way to win the Champions League. I believe we have what it takes to also win it this year. The away goal was crucial.”
Arendse arrived late for that clash with Zesco at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. His delay was due to the birth of his second child Ethan.
That Champions League winner’s medal had extra meaning to Arendse as his long wait to be an African champion coincided with his long wait to have a son.
“A clean sheet is crucial,” Arendse said. “It’s important that we don’t concede, but we also have to score.
“It’s going to be hard, because they will also be looking for a goal. The away goal we scored is crucial.”
The Brazilians will be buoyed by their good record against north African teams when they take on the Moroccan giants with a place in the final up for grabs.
Wydad have never won in Atteridgeville and Sundowns scored in all those three meetings.
Sundowns, under coach Pitso Mosimane, have mastered the art of Champions League football. Their good run is centred on a good record at home where they don’t only win but also score a lot.
“The reason we have a good record against North African teams is because we play a lot like them,” Arendse said.
“They are very well-organised and keep their shape. They are tactically organised. They aren’t like, say, west African teams who are robust, hard-tackling and very physical.
“The Al-Ahlys, Zamaleks and Wydad Casablancas of this world are different. They are tactically organised like us.
“That’s why we play well against them. We know how they move and how they think. That good record gives us belief that we can reach the final.”