Saturday Mar 12, 2022. 10:00
Mamelodi Sundowns will be looking to prevent Al Ahly from claiming their first-ever win in South Africa when they lock horns at the FNB Stadium in the CAF Champions League on Saturday afternoon.
Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Brazilians lead Group A on seven points after going unbeaten in their opening three games and they are primed to advance to the quarter-finals with two of their remaining three fixtures being on home soil.
Masandawana claimed a historic 1-0 win over the Red Eagles in Cairo on matchday three and they have yet to lose to the Egyptian giants in South Africa.
Downs have already played nine matches in the space of 33 days since the action resumed after the extended mid-season break and the intense schedule could take its toll on them sooner rather than later.
The DStv Premiership champions suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to Maritzburg United in Pietermaritzburg last weekend, which allowed the chasing pack to eat into their double-digit lead at the summit.
Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi acknowledged the importance of the tie to both clubs, with just three points separating them in the group at the halfway stage.
“We are going into a very tough encounter, a game that has got so much insight and a game that can determine our season,” Mngqithi said in the pre-match press conference.
“It’s a game of consequence as both Al Ahly and ourselves are looking for a result that can maybe get us into the quarter-finals or stamp their position in the group stages.
“Also considering that they lost the first match against us in their home ground obviously they will come with vengeance, hoping to try and upset us in that space.”
The African champions bounced back from their shock loss to Sundowns with a 3-2 win over Al Merrikh in the Egyptian capital last weekend to move up to four points in second place.
Pitso Mosimane’s side are on a good run of form domestically after beating title rivals Pyramids 3-0 on Tuesday to record their third straight victory in the Premier League this year to go two points clear at the top of the table.
Al Ahly assistant coach Sami Komsan admits they will have to cope with the long journey south, but is confident of picking up a win in South Africa for the first time in their history.
“The game will be played in difficult circumstances after a long trip following the Pyramids FC game,” Komsan was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.
“We have great confidence in our players and we believe that they are able to achieve a positive result on Saturday in spite of all the difficult circumstances surrounding the game.
“The small details are always the reason for winning trophies, so we are preparing our players well for the game and we already have ambitions to win the Champions League title for the third time in a row.”