Mamelodi Sundowns have a score to settle with Wydad
As Mamelodi Sundowns prepare to face Wydad Casablanca for the ninth time in three years, the SA club want to deal decisively with the Moroccans now and avoid running into them in the knockout stages of the CAF Champions League.
The Brazilians will do battle with Wydad in a Group C clash at the Stade Mohammed V tomorrow (9pm).
Downs have a score to settle with the North Africans, who knocked them out at the semifinal stage last season.
In 2017, Wydad were responsible for eliminating the Chloorkop-based side in the quarterfinals.
Versatile Downs attacker Thapelo Morena admits that the aim is put the Wydad matter to rest now rather than later. "That's the plan because we know if we can finish top of the group then we are unlikely to meet the big guns later in the competition," Morena told Sowetan.
"They have caused problems for us over the past few years, but we will be ready for them. It was very painful last season to get eliminated in the semis. We thought we could go all the way, but Wydad had our number."
Pitso Mosimane's men have never defeated their opponents away from home before and have in fact lost every time they face Wydad in Morocco.
Overall in their eight games against each other, Wydad won four while Downs won two and two were draws.
"Playing away in the Champions League is not easy because you deal with so many challenges. The atmosphere at their stadium is very intimidating, but we are experienced and can get our first win there," Morena said.
The nine-time PSL champions are top of their group with three points after their 3-0 win over Petro de Luanda. Wydad and USM Alger follow with a point apiece following their 1-1 draw last week.
As they look forward to maintaining their lead in the group, Downs will be boosted by the return of skipper Hlompho Kekana from a four-match suspension. "In Casablanca we will need our gladiators. Themba Zwane should be back, we'll have Gaston Sirino and Hlompho back," Mosimane said.
Wydad v Sundowns history
17/09/2017: 1-0 Sundowns win (Pretoria)
23/09/2017: 1-0 Wydad won 4-2 on penalties (Casablanca)
05/05/2018: 1-1 draw (Pretoria)
27/08/2018: 1-0Wydad win (Casablanca)
19/01/2019: 2-1 Sundowns win (Pretoria)
16/03/2019: 1-0 Wydad win (Casablanca)
26/04/2019: 2-1 Wydad win (Casablanca)
04/05/2019: 0-0 draw (Pretoria)