Sundowns encounter challenges with the pitch in Cairo ahead of Al Ahly showdown

Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Sundowns and Chippa at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 15 February 2020.
Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Sundowns and Chippa at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 15 February 2020.
Image: ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango remains doubtful for the hugely anticipated Caf Champions League quarterfinal clash against Al Ahly at the Cairo Stadium on Saturday.

Onyango has been battling a recurring hamstring niggle in recent weeks but coach Pitso Mosimane is hopeful that his number one stopper will respond to treatment and play against the Red Devils.

Two weeks ago the Ugandan international was replaced by Kennedy Mweene after just 74 minutes as a precautionary measure during Sundowns' 3-0 win against Chippa United. “We rested Denis on our first day of training since we arrived here in Egypt as he has that hamstring which always gives him trouble‚” said Mosimane.

“But he did a light training session on the second day and our goalkeeper coach Wendell Robinson is working with him to make sure that he is available for the game.”

Mosimane added that key defenders Ricardo Nascimento and Anele Ngcongca are also being monitored as they have niggles‚ but they are expected to be available for the match.

“It is good to see Anele (Ngcongca) making the warm-up because he had some irritations with his groin and Ricardo (Nascimento) also has groin strain. But the good news is that Anthony Laffor is back and he had a full training session with us.”

After arriving in Cairo on Tuesday morning‚ Sundowns have been hard at work but Mosimane is not overly impressed with the standard of the training facilities at the Petro Sport Stadium.

“The pitch has deteriorated‚ but they gave us the best that was available.

"Our challenge is on the pitch.

"What is strange is that it is not long that we had the Cup of Nations in that stadium and I don’t know what is happening. I think maybe the stadium is overused but I expected the pitch to be in better condition.

“Training was not bad‚ we were well received and trained at Petro Sport Stadium and it is a venue where we have a little bit of history.

"That is the stadium where we played against Zamalek during the group stages and the Libyans a while back‚ so we are familiar with the venue‚” said Mosimane‚ who added that they have spent some time analysing Al Ahly.

“We left SA on Monday and only arrived in Egypt on Tuesday and there was nothing much to do but rest.

"Day one was rest day and day two was back to reality with video analysis to check our opponents. We had a look at their strengths‚ what makes them tick and where we can find their weaknesses.”

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