Downs bank­ing on semi-fi­nal slot

The Mercury - - SPORT - Njab­ulo Ngidi

MAMELODI Sun­downs are so con­fi­dent of pro­gress­ing to the semi-fi­nals of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League that they’ve al­ready booked ac­com­mo­da­tion and sorted out visas to go straight to Al­ge­ria af­ter Casablanca.

Sun­downs host 19-time Moroc­can cham­pi­ons Wy­dad Casablanca at the Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League on Sun­day. The African cham­pi­ons will travel to Morocco the fol­low­ing day for the re­turn leg on Satur­day next week at Stade Mo­hamed V. The win­ner of this two-legged af­fair will face ei­ther Al­ge­ria’s USM Al­ger or Fer­roviario Beira of Mozam­bique in the semi-fi­nals. Should the Al­ge­ri­ans win, they would host the first leg on the last week­end of the month.

“We are not com­ing back (from Morocco),” Sun­downs’ coach Pitso Mosi­mane said. “We be­lieve that we will go through. So if we go through, why should we come back? But foot­ball is un­pre­dictable. We have two visas (one for Morocco and the other for Al­ge­ria). We have booked for us to stay there for the next two weeks. And you lose money (for the book­ings) if you don’t win.

“How can we say that we aren’t go­ing to the semi-fi­nals? If I don’t book what am say­ing to the play­ers? That, ‘ah, we are go­ing to come back (be­cause we will be elim­i­nated by Casablanca)’? No! I book. You need to have a pos­i­tive men­tal­ity. I think that we will make it.”

The Brazil­ians al­most met Wy­dad in the Cham­pi­ons

FACTBOX

League fi­nal last year. The Moroc­cans rose from the dead af­ter be­ing ham­mered 4-0 by Za­malek in the first leg in Egypt to win the sec­ond leg in Casablanca 5-2, nar­rowly los­ing out on reach­ing the fi­nal. That match per­fectly summed up Wy­dad.

“What does that tell you? That they don’t die at home, they fight hard,” Mosi­mane said.

“This story of us that we have been do­ing well away might back­fire if we don’t make the most of our home ad­van­tage. Let’s try and take the old book, dust it up and use it against Wy­dad. That book is what we did last year, win­ning all our home games and scor­ing two goals or more. We must win at home be­cause you never know what will hap­pen in Casablanca.”

Sun­downs have strug­gled to make their home ground a fortress like they did last year, win­ning all their games at Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium.

This year they have been im­pres­sive on the road, beat­ing AS Vita and Saint Ge­orge along with hold­ing Esper­ance to a goal­less draw in the trips they made in the group stage. Mosi­mane is bank­ing on the Brazil­ians’ show­ing against the North Africans, es­pe­cially in their own back­yards.

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