Last throw of the dice for Sundowns and Pirates in CAF mission

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Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi and his team have to overturn a 2-1 deficit to advance to the CAF Champions League semifinals. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi and his team have to overturn a 2-1 deficit to advance to the CAF Champions League semifinals. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images


With tight outcomes from the first legs of their respective CAF interclub competitions, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates will hold nothing back in their bid to secure semifinal tickets.

Sundowns are trailing Petro de Luanda of Angola 2-1 heading into the reverse fixture of the Champions League at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Pirates, on the other hand, must also overturn a 1-0 deficit from the opening leg of their Confederation Cup quarterfinal against Simba SC of Tanzania last weekend.

For Sundowns, the defeat in Luanda, which saw an equaliser nullified on review by the video assistant referee (VAR), was a rare setback as it marked the first defeat for the Brazilians in the Champions League this season.

The South African multiple league champions could draw inspiration from an impressive home record in the premier continental club competition, against a Petro side that often struggled in away matches.

Since lifting the Champions League trophy in 2016, Sundowns have lost twice at home – in 2017 and last year – while their opponents from Luanda won only four of their last 18 matches away from home.

READ: Klopp's advice to Downs' Mokwena: 'To succeed, lose the right matches'

Weighing his team’s chances, Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi said Saturday’s match will be no different to a game that starts at nil-nil.

“We always want to score, we always want to win,” he declared.

We want to play a high-octane game, where we have strong elements of high pressing and strong quick short passing.

Mngqithi also had his reservations about how a VAR decision ruled out a wonder strike by Neo Maema in the closing stages of the game in Luanda last Saturday.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge, but perhaps it’s something we have to adapt to.”

In the Champions League, Petro, together with coach Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic of Morocco, take slender advantages into the second legs.

Al Ahly beat Moroccan outfit Raja Casablanca 2-1, while Wydad edged CR Belouizdad of Algeria 1-0 in their fixtures last weekend.

Tunisia powerhouse Esperance and ES Setif of Algeria yielded a goalless draw in the first leg.

Meanwhile, Bucs must win outright to eliminate Simba, who in turn should be prevented from scoring an away goal, as any drawn result with goals will favour the Tanzanians. 


Daniel Mothowagae 

Deputy sports editor

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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