Pitso Mosimane smiling as Sundowns' big guns return

Pitso Mosimane instructs players during the Sundowns Training at Chloorkop on 06 August 2019.
Pitso Mosimane instructs players during the Sundowns Training at Chloorkop on 06 August 2019.
Image: ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns will have several of their big guns back for their Caf Champions League clash with nemesis team Wydad Casablanca in Morocco on Saturday‚ and coach Pitso Mosimane says he knows he will need them.

Downs opened Group C with a 3-0 win against Angolan outfit Petro de Luanda in a relatively easy outing for the Brazilians at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

Sundowns travelled to Morocco on Monday to begin to prepare early to meet 2017 champions Wydad at their 67‚000-seat Stade Mohamed V stronghold in Casablanca on Saturday night.

Mosimane sounded relieved to have stalwart captain Hlompho Kekana back from suspension for the game against a team responsible for Sundowns’ exit in all three competitions since the Pretoria team were Champions League victors in 2016.

Dependable centreback Mosa Lebusa and Denis Onyango (both with tight hamstrings) were rested as a precaution against Petro.

Influential winger Themba Zwane‚ out for almost two months with a hamstring injury‚ has been earmarked for a return against Wydad.

“Thapelo Morena‚ we took him out [in the 82nd minute against Petro] because he felt the calf strain that he got [in Downs’ league win] against AmaZulu‚” Mosimane said

“We have big games now. This is a serious thing now. Now we go to Algeria to play Casa‚ the [Telkom Knockout] final [against Maritzburg United]‚ then Wits [in the league].

“We need Denis‚ Thapelo and Themba back. We won’t have Gaston for local [suspended]‚ but we’ll have him for those.

“We need our soldiers back. Mosa Lebusa had a tight hamstring. Sometimes I’ll take a risk. I said‚ ‘No – out of this game’.

“Much better to have him in Casa than here. Make him rest. I need Mosa there. Because you know there are a lot of crosses‚ corners and free-kicks.

“It’s tough there. We need the big boys‚ we need the soldiers for that. Those are games are for Mosa‚ for [Tiyani] ‘Sugar’ Mabunda in the midfield.

“It’s not the game for passing and passing. I know my personnel for that match.”

Wydad eliminated then-defending champions Sundowns in the quarterfinals on penalties (the aggregate score was 1-1) in the 2017 Champions League.

The Moroccans’ 1-1 draw in Pretoria was a large part of the reason for Sundowns going out in the 2018 group stage.

Downs lost 2-1 on aggregate to Wydad in the 2018-19 competition’s semifinals.