5-0 is a pipe dream but Pitso says Downs have a plan to overcome Al Ahly

Al Ahly player Oluwafemi (R) in action against Mamelodi Sundowns players Gaston Sirino (C) and Motjeka Madisha (L) during the CAF Champions League quarterfinal first-leg soccer match between Al Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns at Cairo Stadium in Cairo, Egypt, 29 February 2020. Picture: EPA/KHALED ELFIQI
Al Ahly player Oluwafemi (R) in action against Mamelodi Sundowns players Gaston Sirino (C) and Motjeka Madisha (L) during the CAF Champions League quarterfinal first-leg soccer match between Al Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns at Cairo Stadium in Cairo, Egypt, 29 February 2020. Picture: EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

The Brazilians must overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in Cairo last weekend if the South Africans are to progress to the semifinals of the premier continental club competition.

Mamelodi Sundowns and Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly will face off in another quarterfinal clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Sundowns followers are still dreaming that their side will deliver another thrashing against the accomplished north African club.

But they need to forget the 5-0 hammering that Sundowns handed Al Ahly in their last meeting in April last year.

“You wish you can get [a 5-0 margin] but we have to be realistic because results like that come around once in a while and maybe we might not ever have that in our lifetime,” warned Mosimane, despite his side boasting an 18-game run without defeat at home since 2017.

“But at the end of the day you wish for that but it is possible? Yes. Is it easy? No, it’s not gonna be easy.

You wish you can get [a 5-0 margin] but we have to be realistic because results like that come around once in a while
Pitso Mosimane

“Well see what their approach is. if the approach is to sit back and not give us space the five [goals] will remain just a wish. But if they play open maybe we can.”

As for Sundowns’ plan on Saturday, Mosimane said the approach would be to score early to unsettle their opponents.

“We don’t know their approach but ours is to push forward to try and score as early as possible and we must not be desperate to say we should score in the first 10 minutes. Yes, if it’s [the chances are] there we’ll take it but you have to be patient.”

Al Ahly, like most of the north African teams, are notorious for time-delaying tactics especially when the scoreline favours them.

However, Mosimane believes his side have learnt a lot from the six years Sundowns have been campaigning in the prestigious club tournament in Africa.

“We can’t be complaining of delaying tactics in Champions league on year six. We should be ready for everything and anything.

“If it’s part of their plan, they can do it. So we’ll try and score and there won’t be time-delaying tactics.”

The signs were obvious during Sundowns’ training sessions this week, when the emphasis was on target-shooting.

Asked by City Press what his worst fear was should Al Ahly counter with an approach that could render Sundowns’ plan ineffective, Mosimane said: “Maybe replace the word fear with challenge. The challenge will be them not allowing us to play. They broke down all our attack in Cairo. [and they conceded] so many fouls, they hold [our players], they bring you down...”

Although Al Ahly have their reservations about popular continental referee Bakary Papa Gassama officiating the game on Saturday, Mosimane has hailed the Gambian official as “credible” .

Sundowns finished the group phase without defeat but this is a stage where the stakes are high.

This is the first time in the tournament’s history that all sides who have qualified for the last eight have won the Champions League.

Mosimane concurred that this is the “toughest” edition by far.

“The Champions League is tough and this one is the toughest because you have all the big boys in the last eight. Mazembe lost, Etoile lost, we lost ... everybody who played away lost. It’s the biggest of them all and it might never happen in CAF history the way it is.”

“But what we’d like is to cherish the opportunity as Mamelodi Sundowns. This is history for us. We are part of the top eight clubs in the continent. It’s a good life, but [has its] hardships. You want to be there as a coach.”

Mosimane has called on South Africans to lend a hand to the Yellow Nation, as Sundowns faithful are called, and to rally behind the 2016 champions in their bid for another semifinal berth.

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