Mamelodi Sundowns go in search for points against USM Alger
North Africa is not the easiest place‚ at the best of times‚ to conjure up a result but Mamelodi Sundowns will be feeling confident that they can pick up a point‚ or even an invaluable three‚ when they meet USM Alger on Saturday.
It is the second away game of the Group C campaign for Sundowns‚ who have already picked up four points out of a possible six‚ and an away win will all but secure their place in the next stage – with three group games still to go.
The squad has been in high spirits on the road despite not being home for Christmas‚ holding a singing contest and organising a giant braai at their hotel to celebrate the holiday before getting down to work.
There is concern about the fitness of Mauricio Affosno‚ the Uruguayan striker whose physical presence is the reason Mosimane bought him to add an extra dimension to their Champions League attack.
The 27-year-old pulled out on the eve of the last game away at Wydad Casablanca in a blow to the coach’s plans and is again a doubt.
Saturday’s game is actually being played in Blida‚ at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker‚ some 40 km south of Algiers. It is the preferred stadium in Algeria for major matches.
Sundowns’ previous trip to Algeria in 2016 saw them beat Entente Setif in a match that was called off in stoppage time as the home fans rioted and led to the Algerian club then being kicked out of the competition.
Their latest Algerian opponents are struggling in the domestic league and have not made much headway in continental club competition over recent years either.
They are struggling in 11th place in Ligue 1 competition and have drawn their opening two Champions League group games.
To add to their woes‚ their Libyan international striker Muaid Ellafi hurt his toe in a training ground clash with one of his teammates and is‚ according to the Algerian press‚ doubtful for the match.
Elladi is the team’s playmaker and coach Billel Dziri would have relied on him to produce the goods on Saturday night.