Why quarterfinalists Sundowns want a win against Wydad in Rabat

15 March 2019 - 11:08 By Mark Gleeson
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate the second goal during the Absa Premiership match between Maritzburg United and Mamelodi Sundowns at Harry Gwala Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate the second goal during the Absa Premiership match between Maritzburg United and Mamelodi Sundowns at Harry Gwala Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Denis Onyango says it is vital that Mamelodi Sundowns avoid defeat against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco on Saturday to ensure they finish top of Group A in the Caf Champions League.

“For us it’s very important to win the group in order to be seeded when the draw is being made‚” said the Ugandan international goalkeeper who will play in the game.

“It’s also an important game for us in terms of bragging rights and also to try and get into the habit of winning away from home‚ especially in North Africa.”

Onyango said Sundowns (10 points)‚ current group leaders by three points from Wydad‚ will resist the temptation to take to it easy at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat‚ having already secure their place in next month’s quarterfinals.

Sundowns‚ who have had a relentless schedule of matches‚ did so when they easily beat Lobi Stars of Nigeria 3-0 in Atteridegville last Saturday‚ but if they avoid defeat in Rabat will finish top.

This also ensures they will be at home in the second leg of the quarterfinal tie.

“Wydad are the team who knocked us out of the Champions League the same year they won it and‚ therefore‚ for us it is‚ as I said‚ about bragging rights and making a statement that we are capable of winning the Champions League‚” Onyango said.

“We cannot make their problem our problem and we need to finish the group off with respect and getting into the quarterfinals telling everyone that we are a strong side‚” he said.

It is the third year in a row that Sundowns take on Wydad and Onyango reckons they have been Sundowns’ toughest opponents over that time.

In 2017‚ Wydad beat Sundowns on post-match penalties after a 1-1 aggregate draw at the quarterfinal stage‚ ending the Brazilians’ hopes of retaining the Champions League title they won in 2016.

Last year Sundowns shared the same group with Wydad and while the Moroccans drew 1-1 in Atteridgeville‚ Sundowns lost away in the return game and Pitso Mosimane’s team did not advance past the group phase.

This year Sundowns beat Wydad at home in the group phase.

“They are a very difficult team to play. We had been looking for a win last year when we were there but we lost. This is the team that we need to beat‚” Onyango said.

With the Confederation of African Football using the head-to-head ruling‚ if Sundowns lose by a two-goal margin or more in Rabat‚ Wydad will top the group having lost 2-1 in Pretoria‚ by virtue of more goals scored in the games between the two teams.

If Sundowns lose 1-0 Wydad will top the group by virtue of having scored an away goal.

If Downs lost 2-1‚ they would top the group due to having a superior goal difference in the group.

If the Brazilians were to lose by a single-goal margin‚ 3-2 or any higher‚ they would top the group due to scoring more away goals than Wydad.

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