Will Pitso face Sundowns?

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Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly could be drawn against Mamelodi Sundowns after finishing second in their group. Picture: BackpagePix
Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly could be drawn against Mamelodi Sundowns after finishing second in their group. Picture: BackpagePix

SPORT


This is what supporters are calling for, arguing that they want to see ‘something’.

Will the supporters’ wish be granted? This is the question on everyone’s lips ahead of Friday’s CAF Champions League draw in Cairo.

The big prize, which everyone is hoping and praying for, is a draw pitting Mamelodi Sundowns against Al Ahly, which would be a dream tie for South African and Egyptian fans.

Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly had to settle for second-best in their group after Simba SC of Tanzania came out tops, and this means they will play one of the seeded sides, except for Simba.

Since they can’t have Al Ahly versus Kaizer Chiefs – they are both unseeded – this is what supporters are calling for, arguing that they want to see “something”.

This will see former Sundowns coach Mosimane face his old club and, should this happen, it will surely be a cracker of a game.

Mosimane sensationally left Chloorkop for Cairo at the start of the season to become the first black man to coach the Misri giants.

But if coach Pitso is really honest‚ I don’t think he wants to play against Sundowns.
Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena

His departure was unexpected as he had earlier signed a four-year contract extension with Downs.

The new players at Sundowns, who were signed at the start of the season, were recruited by Mosimane – the likes of Kermit Erasmus, Peter Shalulile, Aubrey Modiba and Gift Motupa.

The ex-Bafana Bafana coach would in essence be going up against a team that he helped build.

In Egypt, the 56-year-old has had incredible success at the club – he has won the Champions League, the domestic league and the Egyptian Cup.

The clubs have had a couple of battles over the years, but the one that stands out was in 2018, when Mosimane famously led Downs to a 5-0 hammering of the north Africans.

READ: Tim Spirit | SA fans must unite to support all local clubs

In a recent press conference, Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena talked up the prospect of a draw against Mosimane’s charges.

“Coach Pitso is right – who wants to play the defending champions except Mamelodi Sundowns? We welcome that [nobody wants to face Al Ahly] because that’s the competition. Once you get to the last eight and to the last four‚ you get to play anybody and you get to play against the best teams. But if coach Pitso is really honest‚ I don’t think he wants to play against Sundowns.”

If this draw doesn’t happen, a “South African tie” featuring Sundowns and Chiefs is another possibility, as teams that finished top of their group will be pitted against those who finished second.

However, Chiefs cannot face the winners of their own group – Wydad Athletic and Sundowns cannot be drawn against CR Belouizdad of Algeria.

That leaves just three possible quarterfinal opponents for Amakhosi – Simba SC, Tunisia’s Espérance Sportive de Tunis and Sundowns.

Chiefs surprised many and silenced their detractors by marching into the next phase of the competition despite their struggles on the domestic front.

Gavin Hunt has ironically made it out of the group stages of the competition as coach with his weakest team. His attempts with the premiership-winning Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United were undoubtedly with stronger teams.

READ: Sundowns specialist coach Riedoh sets another Afcon milestone

Sundowns, on the other hand, cruised to the last eight during their unstoppable run of 29 consecutive unbeaten games in all competitions. But they lost their last group match 2-0 to CR Belouizdad.

Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates, also on the verge of qualifying for the quarterfinals of the CAF Confederation Cup, must avoid a defeat or at least score when they visit Enyimba of Nigeria on Wednesday.

Pirates are on top of the log on nine points, with Enyimba in third with six. If the Nigerians beat the Buccaneers, it will be head-to-head between the two sides.

The fact that Enyimba scored away from home when they lost 2-1 to Pirates will count in their favour.

DRAW PROCEDURE

. Group winners will be placed in one pot and the runners-up will go in another. This means no two group winners or two runners-up can face each other.

. Teams that were in the same group during the group stages cannot be drawn against each other.
The quarterfinal draw will also determine the semifinal match-ups.

POT A: Winners
Mamelodi Sundowns, Simba SC (Tanzania), Wydad Athletic (Morocco), Esperance (Tunisia)

POT B: Runners-up
Kaizer Chiefs, Al Ahly (Egypt),
CR Belouizdad (Algeria), MC Alger (Algeria)


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Gomolemo Motshwane  

Sport journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gomolemo.motshwane@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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