Pitso: Sundowns need to keep calm
‘We have to turn the volume up in Pretoria’
“PRETORIA? Have you been there?” Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said these words with a huge grin on his face when asked if he thinks the Brazilians can overturn the 2-0 defeat Al Ahly inflicted on them at Cairo International Stadium on Saturday.
The eight-time African champions will go to Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday with a huge advantage after their dominant display in the first leg of the Caf Champions League quarter-finals. Sundowns have to win by three goals or more to reach the semi-finals like they did last year.
It’s a mammoth task against a team that has mastered Champions League football. Al Ahly’s success is centred on a dominant home record, which they complement by managing results in away legs. The Egyptians will come with all their tricks and experience to get the better of Sundowns in a venue where Mosimane’s team are yet to taste defeat in the Champions League this season. While Mosimane acknowledges that it is going to be hard to overturn their first leg defeat, he is confident his side will play Al Ahly off the park at home.
“Come to Pretoria,” he told Egyptian journalists. “It’s a different story. It won’t be what you say here. Ask USM Alger and ask Wydad (Casablanca). It’s a different story. I can’t explain it.”
The first leg was played with a friendly spirit despite Al Ahly keen to rewrite the wrongs of last season when they were thumped 5-0 by Sundowns in Pretoria. Al Ahly couldn’t replicate that win, but they did outplay Sundowns to put one feet in the last four.
“We are professionals. We need to keep calm,” Mosimane said. “I like your coach (Rene Weiler), he keeps calm. It’s the first time I have a coach I talk to during the match. He shows experience. He is a big coach from Europe. My CV, I would put it underneath his so as not to show it if he ever puts his CV on the table. I respect him because he respected me. He is a big coach. We have to keep calm and respect the game.”
The return leg will be a defining moment for both Al Ahly and Sundowns. Sundowns are looking to reach the last four like they did last season and show that their win over the Red Devils last season wasn’t a fluke. With Chiefs tightening their grip on the PSL title, the Champions League is very important for Sundowns.
Al Ahly on the other hand not only want to avenge last season’s embarrassment, they also want to build on their league success.
“I think that we played okay, we play well,” Mosimane said. “I am okay, it’s just that two goals is a bit difficult for us to turn around. But we have to turn the volume up in Pretoria. We have to, we don’t have an option. We have to score in Pretoria. Congratulations to Al Ahly, they are a big team with a lot of pressure. We managed to deal with the pressure. It’s part of the game, we accept it.”
PITSO MOSIMANE is confident his team will play Al Ahly off the park at home. | BackpagePix