Sundowns return to the scene of Bafana's humiliation determined to salvage some pride for SA
Mamelodi Sundowns are determined to do better than Bafana Bafana in Sudan and beat home side Al Hilal in Omdurman in a penultimate Caf Champions League group stage match on Friday.
The Sudan national team ended South Africa’s hopes of qualifying for next year's Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win at Al Hilal Stadium on Sunday and Sundowns return to the scene of Bafana's humiliation when they face the local club on Friday.
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena said they will have to adapt to the local conditions adequately if they are to get the better of the Sudan side in their own backyard.
“We trained at the main stadium on Tuesday to allow ourselves to adapt to the conditions and to prepare thoroughly‚ because three days before the match is always complicated‚” said Mokowena.
“There is some travel fatigue‚ but it is important for the players to make some form of tactical and technical adaptation.
"It is a hard surface that is extremely bumpy‚ and it is very hot outside.
“It is not the best conditions but you must make quicker adaptation further away from match day.
"That will allow for better performances and it will also help to activate the body so that we are ready to go.”
Sudanese authorities have moved the match from 6pm kickoff to 3pm due to poor lighting at the stadium and Mokwena says the change of time will suit them.
“The reasons given for moving the match are that the stadium is not in the best of conditions from an electrical perspective.
"We are not engineers but the report we got is that the lighting is not very good and you could see that in the second half of the match between Bafana and Sudan.
"The other side of the pitch where Innocent Maela was playing became dimmer.
"The reality is that we had to move the kickoff time so that we don’t have any complications.
"Does it work in our favour? I think so because we steal a couple of hours in front so that we can recover and prepare for our next domestic match in South Africa.
"We fly out immediately after the match and this allows more time to rest prior to engaging in another stretch.
“The match is important for us as a country‚ particularly with what has happened in the last couple of days - we are bruised from a football perspective.
"We are a football nation and you expect the happiness index to be affected by our national team not having been able to qualify‚ and that pain was greatly inflicted by the Sudanese national team.
"We have to do the best that we can to respond to a call by the nation and increase the happiness index and salvage a little bit of pride.”