Sundowns on the brink of highest points tally in Champions League‚ group stages
Mamelodi Sundowns can set a new club record for most points in a CAF Champions League‚ group stages campaign when they take on Angolan side Petro de Luanda on Saturday.
The Brazilians qualified for the quarter-final stage of the competition with two matches to spare and they are looking to confirm top place finish if they get all the three points on offer in Luanda.
When the draw for the pool stages was made‚ a few Sundowns fans would have winced at two tough trips to North Africa to face nemesis Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Algerian side USM Alger and to tricky Petro de Luanda in Angola.
But the Brazilians have so far breezed through the pool‚ taking 10 points from a possible 12 in a run that saw three wins and one draw away to Wydad that can still be considered an excellent result.
Now they have a chance to improve their highest points total in the group stages to go past the 12 they achieved in 2000 but it was ironically not enough to advance as only the top sides in the groups progressed in those days.
Victory on Saturday will take the 2016 Champions League winners to 13 points this campaign and provide another feather in the cap of coach Pitso Mosimane.
But more than that‚ a sound warning to their continental rivals that this squad has mastered the art of playing on the continent.
The biggest change this year has been their ability to pick up points on the road.
Prior to their 5-0 away demolition of hapless Cote d’Or earlier this campaign‚ Sundowns had won only one of their previous 13 away games in the Champions League and that came at minnows Leones Vegetarianos in Equatorial Guinea.
Their draw at Wydad and victory at USM Alger were both solid away displays‚ and more of the same will be needed in Luanda this weekend as victory will guarantee top spot in their group.
Winning the group will provide the Brazilians with an ‘easier’ quarter-final outing against the likes of Zamalek or Raja Casablanca‚ rather than tougher Esperance or TP Mazembe.
The last time Sundowns visited Petro was in the semi-finals in 2000 where they lost the match 2-0 but won the tie on penalties following a 2-2 aggregate score and they went on to lose to Al Ahly in the final. Petro have drawn both their home games in the pool stages this season‚ 1-1 with USM Alger and 2-2 with Wydad.
Sundowns’ points in Champions League group stages 2000 – 12 2001 – 9 2016 – 9* 2017 – 9 2018 – 6 2018-19 – 10 *Played over four matches as ES Setif disqualified.