PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is in a bullish mood ahead of what should be a humdinger of a match when the holders play host to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in a Champions League quarter-final first leg on Sunday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
The ‘Brazilians’ have had a bit of a rocky start to the season, having been knocked out of the domestic MTN8 competition and suffering a loss in the three-week-old South African premiership.
The Pretoria-based club go into the game against 1992 winners, Wydad, on a high note after a 2-1 away win over Free State Stars in the domestic league on Monday.
However, he insists continental football is a different ball game all together and his charges need no motivation in defending the most treasured crown in their decorated trophy cabinet.
Mosimane has made some notable signings to his side, which include former Orlando Pirates skipper Oupa Manyisa, as well as Kaizer Chiefs wingerGeorge Lebese, who hails from the club’s township of Mamelodi.
The exciting pair of Keletso Magkalwa and Thendo Mukumela who represented Amajita (South Africa Under-20 team) at both the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Zambia and the Fifa Under-20 World Cup few months ago in Korea Republic, have been promoted to the senior team by Mosimane to ensure that he has a beefed-up squad that can compete across all borders.
The Sundowns trainer told CAFOnline.com that defending the title will be slightly difficult now that most clubs have studied how they play.
“Our journey to reaching this stage of the competition hasn’t been easy. We have become the team to beat this time around, purely based on the fact that we are the defending champions.
“Unlike last season, we didn’t have the champions title next to our name, but now clubs have studied our strengths and are now are planning better against us. That is what comes with being a champion,” said Mosimane.
The 53-year-old coach is wary of the danger posed by the North Africans, an experienced side as far as continental club football is concerned. The Moroccans were semi-finalists last year, and their only triumphs in the premier continental club championship dates back over two decades.
Saturday - Alexandria: Al Ahly (Egypt) vs Esperance (Tunisia). Beira: Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique) vs USM Alger (Algeria)
Sunday - Alexandria: Ahly Tripoli (Libya) vs Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia). Pretoria: Sundowns (South Africa) vs Wydad Casablanca (Morocco).