Sundowns unfazed by possible hostile reception in Morroco
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is under no illusions about the kind of reception the Brazilians will get in Morocco when they face Wydad Athletic away from home in a second leg Champions League quarterfinal match that is expected to be simmering with tension on Saturday.
Sundowns departed for Morocco on Monday night and Mosimane said while they expect Wydad to step up the intimidation antics after losing the first leg 1-0 in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon‚ his players are mentally prepared for whatever is thrown at them after surviving the worst kind harassment during their Champions League-winning run last year.
“We have a lot of experience to be honest and we are not going to be intimidated‚” he said.
“This game can never be bigger than Zamalek in Alexandra - it can never be bigger than that.
“That is the ultimate full house and these guys (his players) have been there.
"Imagine us saying now we are worried about being intimidated when we have been to Setif (Algeria).
“You know what is happening in Algeria? Oh it’s not funny!
“They (the fans) go inside the pitch and when their team does not score‚ they go inside and stop the match.
“I told the guys (when Sundowns played against Setif in a Champions League group match in June last year) that ‘no don’t worry about the people outside‚ the game is on the pitch.’
“The next thing suddenly people are inside the pitch and the players said ‘coach‚ you said people won’t come on the pitch and now they are on the pitch.’
"We ran to the changeroom. What are we going to do?”
So heated was that encounter in Algeria that the Confederation of African Football disqualified Setif for pitch invasion and other unsavoury incidents that took place during the game against Sundowns.
Mosimane said while he would have loved to go to Morocco with more than one goal in the bag‚ he was happy that they did not concede an away goal at home.
“I would have loved to get a second goal (in Pretoria) but we could not buy a second one. If you want to be in the semifinals‚ you have to fight for it‚” he said.
“No one is going to give it to you. We have been through this and let’s go through it again. We are strong boys and we got a lot of international players.
“Denis Onyango‚ a lot of Bafana players in the team….. They (Bafana players in the Sundowns team) went to Nigeria (and beat the Super Eagles 2-0 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in June).
“At one stage we had about five‚ six‚ seven players in Bafana. Okay‚ we must exclude Keagan Dolly‚ Bongani Zungu and Rama Mphahlele (they have all left to join other teams).
“But they have been there and they know what is needed – they are strong boys.”
Sundowns have some injury problems to contend with and Mosimane took his whole squad to Morocco on Monday in the hope that some of the players in the sickbay would recover while on the road in time to face Wydad.
“I am taking 25 players with me. Whoever comes back (from injury) will come back‚ you never know.
“So I will take everybody – I will take a full bus‚ you know. I will take the whole medical team - two doctors‚ everything‚ physios and everything. It is wafa wafa now huh‚ and these are the last matches.
“It is either you get into the semifinals or you are out of the Champions League. If I can get one more (player) upfront‚ and the one who looks likely to be there could be Khama (Billiat).
“But Khama also‚ the mentality must be there and he must be right.”