Downs scramble for extra CAF game
Brazilians forced to prepare for Vegetarianos from Equatorial Guinea
Mamelodi Sundowns have a right to feel aggrieved about having to play the preliminary round in the CAF Champions League at such short notice.
Sundowns were unexpectedly drawn to play in the first round of the pre-group stages in the Premier African club competition.
Due to their high ranking in African football, the Brazilians in the past played only the second round of the preliminaries – one step before the group stages. This time only Wydad Casablanca, TP Mazembe, Al Ahly and AS Vita Club were seeded.
The 2016 competition winners were last week drawn to take on Leones Vegetarianos from Equatorial Guinea, with the first-leg away on Tuesday and the second in SA on December 4.
Sundowns will need star player Gaston Sirino to step up for the team at this stage of the tournament. Coach Pitso Mosimane has singled out the Uruguayan as his pick for PSL Footballer of the Season at the end of the campaign.
Some of the Brazilians’ contingent of international players are not in contention for the match.
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango is likely to be ruled out as he had swelling on his abductor muscles after doing duty with the Uganda national team, while Themba Zwane had a similar problem.
The unforeseen extra match on their schedule forced the management and technical team into a scramble to prepare for the central African opponents.
The technical department had to get video footage of the Guinean’s last three games to analyse the opponents while the management has had to organise travel arrangements in a short period of time.
Sundowns’ acting general manager, Yogesh Singh, admitted that they were caught off guard by the CAF draw.
“It seems we only missed out of being seeded by one spot but it is what it is, and we have to deal with it and play the round,” Singh said.
Due to the match clashing with Sundowns’ domestic league fixtures, the PSL had to postpone matches against Black Leopards set for Wednesday, and Maritzburg United on December 4.
Leones Vegatarianos (Equatorial Guinea) v Sundowns
Pirates v Light Stars (Seychelles)
Free State Stars v Mukura Victory Sports (Rwanda); Kaizer Chiefs v Zinamoto (Zanzibar).
Sundowns playmaker Gaston Sirino is needed against Leones Vegetarianos.