Clash of tycoons

2015-03-08 15:00

Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs were expected to cruise through their first-round matches against St Michel and Township Rollers, respectively, in the CAF Champions League – and they did this with ease, winning 4-1 and 3-1 on aggregate.

But the real competition starts in the next round.

The Sundowns versus TP Mazembe fixture is not only a clash of Africa’s titans but also of Africa’s two football tycoons – Patrice Motsepe and Moïse Katumbi Chapwe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Then there is the other great north/south encounter when Chiefs welcome Raja Casablanca of Morocco. With this game, South African football fans will get a chance to watch two of the best teams in Africa.

Motsepe and Katumbi share the same ambition: to make their clubs a major force on the African continent and on the international stage.

The two billionaires have raised the bar by attracting the crème de la crème of players, paying exorbitant salaries and boasting the best talent at their disposal.

But while Katumbi’s Mazembe have already tasted glory in the CAF Champions League on four occasions, Motsepe’s Sundowns are still on a mission to conquer the continent.

Mazembe have even played in the Fifa Club World Cup – an elite competition featuring the winners from all six continents.

Motsepe is on record as saying he wants Sundowns to rule Africa – and they stand a chance this year.

Unfortunately, one of the two has to fall as both teams meet each other in the next round of the competition at the weekend.

Sundowns host the DRC champions, who had a bye in the previous round. With Downs’ following in South Africa, a decent crowd is expected when they meet at Loftus in Pretoria on Saturday.

Coach Pitso Mosimane has already said he knows what to expect from Mazembe, who have former Orlando Pirates midfielder Joseph Kamwendo, Zambian captain Rainford Kalaba and DRC number one goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.

The Brazilians, on the other hand, will be pinning their hopes on the likes of Teko Modise, Surprise Moriri and captain Alje Schut.

Chiefs welcome the north African giants and three-times African champions Raja on Saturday at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kickoff is at 7pm.

Stuart Baxter’s side came short in qualifying for the last eight last year and the Englishman has made it clear he wants to go further in this year’s tournament by getting into the group stages. But Chiefs will be without Matthew Rusike after he received his second booking against Rollers last weekend.

With away fixtures always difficult to negotiate, both South African giants know a solid home victory will set them on course to qualifying for the next round.

After Pirates’ nightmarish trip to the DRC two years ago, Mosimane is only too aware of the torrid time his team can expect in Lubumbashi.

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