Sundowns face the embarrassment of an early Champions League exit against AS Togo-Port

Mamelodi Sundowns players during the Mamelodi Sundowns media open day at Chloorkop on July 25, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Mamelodi Sundowns players during the Mamelodi Sundowns media open day at Chloorkop on July 25, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns must rediscover their form for Friday night’s African Champions League home clash with AS Togo-Port or face the embarrassment of an early exit from the competition they won two years ago.

Sundowns‚ who like to bill themselves as one of the leading clubs on the continent‚ have just two points from their opening three games in the pool‚ which includes a surprise draw at Guinea side Horoya and a feeble performance in a 1-0 loss to Togo-Port in Lome last time out.

Just a single victory in their last seven competitive matches in all competitions paints the picture of a side that has lost its efficiency and failure to get a win on Friday would add to the pressure on coach Pitso Mosimane.

With the money that the club has invested in players in the last few years‚ failure at this stage of the competition would be viewed in an extremely dim light‚ especially in a pool that should hold no great fear outside of the presence of defending champions Wydad Casablanca.

Mosimane is shrewd enough to know all of that and he will have been as angry as many fans at their limp performances of late.

“We must win‚ nothing else. Win or go home. It’s as simple as that. Otherwise you’ll be hoping that others lose and it’s no longer in your hands‚” Mosimane said.

“It’s in our hands‚ we can get five points and you never know what is going to happen in Casablanca. Normally‚ not many people come back from Casablanca [with a win]. So‚ we are hoping that Wydad Casablanca wins [versus Horoya on Saturday]. We win and Wydad wins‚ and then we can sort things out against Horoya here.”

That scenario would move Sundowns up to second in the pool and back on course for the knockout stages.

Mosimane admitted that defensive errors have cost his side in all three matches so far‚ the 1-1 home draw with Wydad‚ the 2-2 draw away at Horoya and that disappointing loss in Lome.

“It is a concern‚ because if you look at the goal we conceded against Wydad‚ it was a big error. In Conakry‚ we had the game wrapped up and we didn’t pick up [the striker] in the box.

“Then we conceded in Togo where the ball came off [defender] Ricardo [Nascimento] and fell for the striker. Those things do happen in football and it’s unfortunate‚ but on paper they are four goals.”

Sundowns had never lost a home game in the Champions League until their 2-1 reversal at the hands of Esperance in 2017.

Their previous 40 matches have produced 29 wins and 10 draws‚ to go with that single defeat.

But they have been less impressive more latterly‚ with their last six home matches producing two wins‚ three draws and a loss.