SA clubs need to pick up pace
Next week is another tough one for South African clubs in continental competitions – a sort of make-orbreak situation. While SuperSport United are riding the crest of the wave in the CAF Confederation Cup, Platinum Stars are on the verge of being knocked out of the same competition, and Mamelodi Sundowns need to get their CAF Champions League campaign back on track. United are on top of their group in the Confederation Cup and will be hoping to consolidate their position at the expense of visiting Democratic Republic of Congo side TP Mazembe on Tuesday. After earning a credible draw away from home, United should be buoyed by their performance at Mazembe after coming from 2-0 down to force a draw. Defender Morgan Gould said he had a lot of respect for Mazembe and believed there was no bigger game than the upcoming one. After playing TP Mazembe in front of their home supporters a fortnight ago, Gould was still in awe and said he had not experienced anything like what they encountered in Lubumbashi. “They are a nightmare,” said Gould. “They are a complete team and, football-wise, they are on another level. If you can take them with their supporters, their stadium and everything they have, they will fit in anywhere in Europe. They are just football crazy.” He said Mazembe deserved their status as one of the best on the continent. “We know we have a cup final before another final, and it is going to be demanding and taxing for us. However, I believe we have enough manpower and desire to do well in the two competitions. “We are motivated and there is no way we will go down without a fight. Our youngsters have been doing well and have learnt a lot in this competition.” Sundowns have had a poor start in the CAF Champions League, with just one victory in three matches. They have one match and drew one. They will need to bounce back against Esperance, who beat them 2-1 a fortnight ago, when they face them on Wednesday evening. Pitso Mosimane’s side are currently in third place in their group, with four points from three games, and trail Ethiopian side St George and their Tunisian rivals by one and three points, respectively. Sundowns’ campaign got off to a slow start when they were held to a draw at home by the Ethiopians in their opening game. They recovered to beat AS Vita Club away, but then faltered again at home to the Tunisians. However, a victory will get their campaign back on track as they eye the knockout stages. It has been a good run for Platinum Stars, who were not even expected to qualify for the group stages, but they are now staring elimination in the eye in their next game. Stars have one point to show for their efforts after a draw and two defeats, and will need to beat visiting Tunisian side CS Sfaxien on Tuesday for a chance to make the knockout stages. Willem Jackson has been overseeing the team after the club decided not to renew Cavin Johnson’s contract.
SuperSport United vs TP Mazembe (Lucas Moripe Stadium, Tuesday, 7pm); Platinum Stars vs CS Sfaxien (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Wednesday, 7pm)
CAF Champions League:
Esperance vs Mamelodi Sundowns (Stade Olympique de Radès, Wednesday, 11pm)
OUTSTANDING Abbubaker Mobara has been playing well in the Nedbank Cup
RESERVED Morgan Gould says against TP Mazembe is a tough team