Wydad Casablanca get comfortable in SA ahead of Sundowns showdown
African champions Wydad Casablanca held their first training session on South African soil on Thursday ahead of their opening Champions League group stage clash with Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville on Saturday night.
The Moroccan side arrived on Wednesday having made a stop-over in Libreville‚ Gabon‚ on their way down south.
They will have two training sessions‚ with the second at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Friday night at 21h00‚ the same time as the kick-off for the fixture at the weekend.
Coach Faouzi Benzarti has a full-strength squad to select from for what is likely to be Sundowns’ biggest challenge for a quarterfinal place in a pool that also includes AS Togo-Port and Horoya from Guinea.
Wydad reached the group stages with a 7-4 aggregate win over Ivorian side Williamsville AC in the previous round‚ which included a 2-0 away loss.
The hero of the first leg was Morocco international winger Ismail Haddad‚ who scored a hat-trick and will be the dangerman again as he vies for an unlikely place in his country’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Wydad have their eyes on domestic matters as well.
Sundowns may have wrapped up their local league‚ but a 0-0 draw with BOTOLA PRO leaders Ittihad Tanger at the weekend has left Wydad four points back with three rounds of matches to play.
They will have to make a sprint back from South Africa on Sunday as they have another crunch domestic league game against second-placed Hassania Agadir on Wednesday next week.
Wydad knocked Sundowns out of the Champions League last year on their way to lifting the trophy.
Both teams secured 1-0 home wins in the quarterfinal tie‚ but the Moroccans held their nerve to win the penalty shoot-out that followed.
Sundowns are without lead forward Percy Tau‚ who is suspended for the clash.