Pitso Mosimane keen to banish ghost of Wydad Casablanca
Pitso Mosimane will draw inspiration from exciting Ajax Amsterdam - who stunned Real Madrid in Madrid and Juventus in Turin in the Uefa Champions League - when the Brazilians travel to Wydad Casablanca for the semifinal, first leg of the Caf Champions League in Rabat on Friday.
Mosimane takes his side to the cauldron of the 52,000-seater Complexe Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium with the intention of banishing the ghost of Wydad by registering their first win over their bitter foes away from home.
Sundowns have played six matches against Wydad in this tournament with the North Africans prevailing on three occasions at home with slender 1-0 wins while the Brazilians have two wins and one draw in Pretoria.
By the time they arrive in Morocco on Wednesday morning, Sundowns would have played three Absa Premiership matches against SuperSport United, Baroka and Chippa United in six days as part of their demanding schedule.
"We have belief that we can win there. If Ajax Amsterdam go out and win at Madrid and Juventus, you also have to believe that you can do it," said Mosimane as he looked ahead of what is expected to be a fiercely contested clash.
"When we won the Champions League, we won against ES Sétif in Algeria, Zamalek in Egypt and AS Vita in Kinshasa, so we have to change the results and break the ice against Wydad away from home.
"We need to score away. If we don't score away then we must not lose and keep zero behind. They are driven by their big crowd but I can say the same about us because the crowd drives us here. They make more noise and you saw how difficult it was for Bakary Gassama last week in our game against Al Ahly. This time the referee is from Botswana (Joshua Bondo) and you know that the whole bench is in your face all the time."
There is a general belief that the team that plays away in the knockout stages has a slight advantage but Mosimane begged to differ.
"When Wydad, Esperance and Al Ahly play away from home first, they don't win a lot. Al Ahly lost to Simba FC and AS Vita, so those things don't really determine what is coming," he said."We haven't won in Wydad and that is a fact but you have to understand how Champions League is played. It is not the same as here (PSL) because the spaces are tight, you are not allowed to easily put five passes together, people are on top of you all the time and the crowd drives the team."History says there is more than one goal in Pretoria but emotionally I don't know how they are going to react to this game when they know that they are coming here for the second leg. I don't think there is any team in Africa that can say that we will win in Pretoria, even Esperance knows it is tough here because we understand the mentality of what is needed."
Having played against each other six times since 2017, Mosimane admits they know each other very well."We have played together a lot of times and if you ask their coach he will tell you everything about the movement of our players and it is the same with us."It is a game that always has a goal but it hasn't reached three. There is always 1-0 or 2-1 but it is a game where you say 'what's new'."I think what is new in this game is that it will be the first time we play them away first and they come here the second time."To get the win, Mosimane will pin his hopes on players like Denis Onyango, Ricardo Nascimento, Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane, who is the leading scorer with six goals, Gaston Sirino and Lebohang Maboe.Wydad coach Faouzi Benzarti has the likes of goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, Achraf Dari, Salaheddine Saidi and Gabriel Okechukwu to protect the badge at home...