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PITSO STEELS DOWNS FOR ZAMALEK TILT

Following a complete rout of Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first leg of the Orange CAF Champions League final at the Lucas Moripe Stadium last Saturday, Mamelodi Sundowns look well on course to being crowned champions of African club football heading into the return leg in Egypt on Sunday.

While a tough 90-minutes of football in front of 86, 000 intimidating fans await the South Africans at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, the fixture certainly looks in favour of the ‘Brazilians’, considering the three goals that had no response from Zamalek at a packed to the rafters Lucas Moripe Stadium in the first leg.

This was Sundowns’ third consecutive victory over the Egyptians, having brought the White Knights to the sword on two occasions in the group stages of the competition.

However, this should serve a motivation for the home side to avoid defeat at all cost and escape the embarrassment of a fourth successive loss to Sundowns in the same competition. Overturning a 3-0 deficit will be an uphill battle for the team that last won the competition in 2002 but should they succeed, it would be the perfect platform to salvage some pride and revenge against their more fancied opponents.

Just like their opponents, Sundowns have also not been good travellers in the competition. The Brazilians have only managed two victories out of their seven away outings. On the contrast, Zamalek have proven their capability of winning with a big margin at home after thrashing Wydad Athletic Club 4-0 in the semifinals, which should serve as a warning to the South African champions.

However, Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane who is on the brink of being the first South African coach to lead a club to African glory has cautioned his team about underestimating the Egyptian side at home in such a competition.

“No doubt there will be pressure and hostility from the fans but we are ready for anything. I hear a lot of people saying it’s already in the bag for Sundowns but this is football and we must never forget that they have scored four at home in this very competition. It would be very foolish to consider ourselves champions without kicking a ball. We got the advantage that we needed at home but the last hurdle is on Sunday,” cautioned Mosimane.

Mosimane will be more careful in his approach, just as they have been when playing away and says catching them on the counter will be the best option in what he considers as the most important match of his coaching career.

“With the backing of the crowd, we know that they will be coming at us from the onset but this will give us the perfect opportunity to catch them with our speed on the break’ said Mosimane.

Sundowns were scheduled to leave for Egypt on Wednesday in their bid to become the second South Africa club after Sundowns to lift the coveted Holy Grail of African club football.
© CAF Online

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