Masandawana’s face a stern test to see if they have the capacity to turn around an away defeat against the defending champions
Mamelodi Sundowns host Caf Champions League title holders Al Ahly in Saturday’s quarter-final, second leg showdown at Lucas Moripe Stadium with a task to launch a comeback following a 2-0 first-leg loss.
Having tasted Champions League glory just once in their 50-year history, the Brazilians’ bid for a second title is under serious threat from the Cairo giants.
While Saturday’s match is a huge test for Sundowns, it is also equally a big challenge for Al Ahly to see if they can hold onto their first-leg advantage.
Ex-Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane got the better of his former team seven days ago and would be guarding against a collapse which could see Masandawana claw their way back into the contest.
|Game||Mamelodi Sundowns vs Al Ahly|
|Date||Saturday, May 22|
|Time||15:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
Squads & Team News
Again this week, Sundowns’ build-up to Saturday’s match has been marked by high hopes to have Themba Zwane fit to play after a hamstring strain sidelined him from the first leg.
With this being a swim-or-sink encounter, Masandawana coaches would want all their star players available and they have pinned hopes on Zwane to lead their comeback.
Earlier this week, co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi said “it looks very positive” for Zwane to feature against the nine-time African champions.
There has also been good news on the availability of Gaston Sirino who was subbed in the first leg as Mngqithi complained that the Uruguayan was a victim of being kicked a lot by Al Ahly players.
After it was initially thought that Tunisian defender Ali Maaloul would be available for the match at Lucas Moripe, coach Mosimane delivered news earlier this week that the left-back is not yet fit.
Maaloul has a hamstring injury which was sustained at the Fifa Club World Cup against Bayern Munich in February.
Al Ahly will also be without defender Saad Samir, midfielder Hamdi Fathy who has an arm injury and striker Marwan Mohsen.
Apart from the injured players, Al Ahly traveled to Tshwane without Mohamed Mahmoud and Mostafa Shobier who have both tested positive for Covid-19.
However, there is some encouraging news about midfielder Akram Tawfik who returns after missing the first leg with injury and could make his sixth Champions League appearance this season.
While Al Ahly boast nine Champions League titles, Sundowns have only reached the semi-finals thrice before – 2001, 2016 and the 2018/19 season.
But the gap between the two sides in terms of quality is not too wide currently.
Saturday’s match will be the eighth Champions League meeting between Masandawana and Al Ahly and the Cairo giants enjoy a superior record of four wins, two draws and a defeat since their first clash in 2007.
It will also be the sixth confrontation between the two teams in the past three seasons in which they have, interestingly, been clashing in the quarter-finals.
Eighteen goals have been witnessed in Sundowns-Al Ahly clashes.
The last time Al Ahly were in Pretoria, they forced a 1-1 draw in March 2020.
Sundowns might, however, want to invoke memories of April 2019 when they thrashed the Egyptians 5-0 at Lucas Moripe with Mosimane being the mastermind of the Brazilians’ victory which was Al Ahly’s heaviest Champions League defeat.
Masandawana have only lost twice in 43 Champions League matches at home, with the latest being last month’s 2-0 defeat by CR Belouizdad and the 2-1 loss to Esperance in 2017.