Sundowns to learn their Caf Champions League quarter-final opponents on Wednesday
Mamelodi Sundowns will learn their Caf Champions League quarter-final fate on Wednesday when the draw is made and whoever they get will present a mighty challenge to the Brazilians.
Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Wydad Casablanca saw Sundowns finish runners-up in their pool and they will face either defending champions Esperance‚ DR Congo giants TP Mazembe or the most successful African club in history in Egyptian side Al Ahly.
None of those three teams are appetising prospects‚ though Sundowns may feel that a match-up against Lubumbashi-based Mazembe will give them the best possible chance of making it to the semis.
Sundowns met Esperance in the 2017 Champions League and lost 2-1 in Tunis‚ before drawing 0-0 at home in the pool stages.
They faced Mazembe in the second round in 2015‚ but lost out 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-0 home win was followed by a 3-1 loss away.
Sundowns do not have recent experience of facing Ahly‚ but have lost both previous Champions League ties they have played against the Cairo club including the 2001 final.
Esperance breezed through their pool unbeaten‚ while Al Ahly suffered two losses on their way to topping Group D‚ but have all the guile and street-smarts that make them such a difficult opponent.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane will know that had his side held on for a draw in Morocco‚ their path would have been much simpler with one of Tanzanian side Simba‚ Horoya of Guinea and Algerian club CS Constantine their prospective opponents.
But that is in the past now and Mosimane will have to use all his experience to plot a way past one of the continent’s giants if the club is to regain the trophy they won in 2016.
Orlando Pirates did not make the quarter-final draw after they lost 2-1 to Horoya to bow out of the competition at the pool stage.
The quarterfinals will be played the weekend of April 5-6 and 12-13‚ with Sundowns now having to reschedule Absa Premiership meetings with SuperSport United (April 7) and Baroka FC (April 14).
They will also be away in the second leg of their Champions League tie‚ meaning they will have to dash back for the Premiership encounter with Black Leopards on April 17.