Mamelodi Sundowns are firmly in control of their destiny in the CAF Champions League, and their fourth group stage match in Pretoria on Saturday could all but cement the Brazilians’ place in the knockout phase of the premier continental club competition.
This provided that the Tshwane powerhouse collects maximum points against Algeria champions USM Alger in its group clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium at 3pm.
Victory for coach Pitso Mosimane’s side will push Sundowns to 10 points, while they tighten their grip at the top of Group C which also has Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Angola’s Petro de Luanda.
“It’s a big one and an important one. One big thing is that we have to win here against the Algerians because if we win, we are almost eliminating them,” explained Mosimane.
“If we win, we would pave the way for Wydad also, but you’ve got to look after yourself. So let it be a two-horse race. Why have a third party? And we know that with Wydad at home against the Angolans, they’ll never leave that game.”
Wydad, who are two points adrift of 2016 champions Sundowns, will face the Angola giants away on Saturday.
If the Brazilians finish top of the group, they will be seeded for the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, the defending Absa Premiership champions will return to a tricky domestic assignment when they face Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Wednesday.
The Brazilians were held to a goalless draw by Bidvest Wits on Tuesday, a stalemate that gave log leaders Kaizer Chiefs a sigh of relief and a good chance to extend their lead at the top when Amakhosi host Cape Town City on Sunday.
In another CAF interclub game involving a South African club, Bidvest Wits will be eager to register their first win the Confederation Cup group stage on Sunday.
The Clever Boys will meet Libyan side Al-Nasr at a neutral venue in Egypt.
Both sides are yet to win in three matches but they are jointly on two points having drawn twice and lost once in Group C, where Guinea-Bissau champions AC Horoya are leading the race with seven points and Malian giants Djoliba AC, who will host Horoya on Sunday, are second with four points.