Mosimane on Ahly’s return clash with Sundowns: ‘I’ve been around in this place’

21 May 2021 - 17:35 By Marc Strydom
Al Ahly captain Mohamed El Shenawy and coach Pitso Mosimane during a press conference on May 21 2021 in Cape Town.
Al Ahly captain Mohamed El Shenawy and coach Pitso Mosimane during a press conference on May 21 2021 in Cape Town.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane has suggested his team will give Mamelodi Sundowns precious little in the second leg of their 2020-21 Caf Champions League quarterfinal at Lucas Moripe Stadium (kickoff 3pm on Saturday).

Sundowns lost 2-0 in a tactical matchup in the away leg in Cairo on Saturday‚ and have a similar mountain to climb in the replay of last year’s quarterfinal as they did at the same venue in February last year. Downs‚ then under Mosimane‚ drew that second leg 1-1 to lose 3-1 on aggregate to the eventual winners of the final — where Ahly also played under Mosimane.

“We come here with the hope and the belief of reaching the semifinals‚” Mosimane said in his pre-match press conference for the second leg in Pretoria on Friday.

“The 2-0 lead is a slight advantage‚ but it doesn’t mean that much because I’ve been around in this place‚ I know the capabilities of Mamelodi Sundowns‚ that they are a strong team.”

In the first leg‚ Sundowns at times stroked the ball around beautifully‚ though too often without producing a chance.

Downs were unfortunate when Gift Motupa struck an upright‚ and Ahly’s two goals were scored against the run of play‚ but there was a definite sense that Mosimane had out-thought his ex-team and their coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela.

Mosimane suggested Ahly would be cagey again in Pretoria. He said his team should replicate the kind of performance — absorbing pressure‚ frustrating masterfully‚ and aiming to score a killer goal on the break — that Ahly produced when Mosimane was coach of Sundowns in last season’s quarterfinal.

“For me the approach is to copy what Ahly did last year when we [Sundowns] played Ahly‚” the ex-Bafana Bafana coach said. “I think you know what happened here. So I would appreciate to copy that - try and score a goal.”

After Ahly beat Sundowns last season‚ amid Covid-19 delays to football‚ and then the completion of the SA season‚ Mosimane then made his bombshell move from Sundowns to the Egyptian giants in late September.

He steered the Devils past Wydad Casablanca in impressive fashion in the 2019-20 Champions League semifinals‚ 5-1 on aggregate. Ahly beat bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek 1-0 in the final at Cairo International Stadium.