Downs and United have all to play for
The fate of two South African clubs in the CAF club competitions – Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United – is in their own hands.
However, the same cannot be said about Platinum Stars, who are all but out of contention in the knockout stages of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Defending CAF Champions League champions Sundowns and their neighbours, United, know what to do in their remaining two matches to guarantee their places in the quarterfinals of their tournaments.
With two games remaining, Downs next travel to Ethiopia’s Saint George before hosting AS Vita Club in back-to-back fixtures.
The Brazilians will be home and dry should they avoid defeat in Addis Ababa on Saturday and beat Vita at home a week later.
Sundowns are second on the table, with the same number of points as their Saturday hosts, but with a better goal difference.
Pitso Mosimane’s side started this year’s campaign at a slow pace, winning only one of their four matches, but should still be too good for the Ethiopians.
But it won’t be easy for Mosimane’s side, who should expect a packed Addis Ababa Stadium.
The sides played to a goalless draw in their opening match of the campaign.
After their moraleboosting draw against Esperance away in north Africa in Tunisia on Wednesday, Sundowns should be confident ahead of their trip to east Africa.
Sundowns have been boosted by the return of captain Hlompho Kekana and Anthony Laffor from injury – the duo will play a crucial role in ensuring the side’s progression to the next stage of the tournament.
United, on the other hand, also have to avoid defeat in Guinea, where they visit group leaders Horoya AC at the weekend.
In fact, a win for United would book them a place in the quarterfinals as Horoya and third-placed TP Mazembe would cancel each other out in their last match.
Despite not losing a single game in the group stages, Matsatsantsa a Pitori have only victory to show for their efforts in four matches – with three drawn games. They need at least one more victory to ensure they reach the knock-out stages.
With the Nedbank Cup out of the way, it should be smooth sailing for United, who can now focus solely on the Confederation Cup.
It has been a poor run for Stars, who are languishing at the bottom of their group – without a victory in four matches.
They travel to Mouloudia Club d’Alger of Algeria, who are on top of the group with eight points.
Their remaining two games will be a formality and they should use them to give their youngsters CAF experience.
ON TRACK Tembo SuperSport United’s Kaitano