Sundowns 'have the experience' to deal with Ahly's fanatical supporters
Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Oupa Manyisa knows the intimidating atmosphere at the cauldron of the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt‚ but believes his experienced team-mates will be able to handle the expected hostility.
The Brazilians take on Al Ahly in Saturday evening’s first leg of their 2019-20 Caf Champions League quarterfinal looking for a repeat of last season’s feat‚ where Downs dumped the Red Devils out of the competition at this stage with a 5-1 aggregate scoreline.
Manyisa said the group that has traveled to North Africa have vast experience to be able to deal with what Al Ahly will throw at them.
“We all know that the atmosphere there is very intimidating but our players have been in those situations many times in the past and they know how to handle themselves‚” Manyisa said.
“We have to box smart and our first priority is to win the match. But if we can’t get a win‚ a draw will be enough because they [Al Ahly] know very well that it is difficult for teams to win at Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ where we have not lost in a long time in the Champions League.”
Manyisa has not travelled with the team as he recovers from an Achilles injury he suffered during the Shell Helix Cup friendly match in October last year.
“In these two-legged matches‚ an away goal is important and the players are fully aware of that‚” Downs’ midfielder said.
“It is possible to win there in their own backyard where they will be backed by their passionate supporters‚ who will be screaming at the top of their voices in the stands.
“If we do not manage to get a win‚ we must try to get a draw with goals and finish the job at home next weekend We definitely cannot afford a loss because that will put us under a lot of pressure.
“I have confidence in the team that has travelled because it has players who have been in the wars on the continent for the past five to six years and they know what to do.
“Some of those players have been involved in high-profile matches for their respective national teams‚ so we have enough experience to handle the pressure.
“This tournament is important for us as a club and our fans expect us to at least reach the next stage.”
Al Ahly have confirmed that 30‚000 fans will be allowed into the 80‚000-capacity stadium (crowds in Egypt have been limited by authorities).
The match has been moved from the Al Salam Stadium to Cairo International‚ which always produced an intimidating atmosphere.