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Sundowns aiming to finish the job against DRC side AS Maniema

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says they must finish the job against DRC side AS Maniema.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says they must finish the job against DRC side AS Maniema.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi says they are not concerned by the fact that they will be playing in their third match in a week when they take on Congolese side AS Maniema at Loftus on Sunday.

The Brazilians face AS Maniema in the return leg of a Champions League second round match that will ensure progression for the winner to the group stages of the competition.

Sundowns drew 2-2 with AS Maniema away from home a week ago, and then they returned home to beat Golden Arrows 1-0 in the DStv Premiership in Durban on Wednesday. They have had very little time to catch their breath as they now host the team from the DRC on Sunday.

Looking at the scenario, Mngqithi said they may be in a better position than their visitors who arrived in SA during the week.

“Not having played during the week might be an advantage for them, but it might also be a disadvantage because they also had to travel,” said Mngqithi.

“Usually when we look at travelling, we focus on the flying time which is about three to four hours. On the day of travelling in Africa you are required to be at the airport about three to four hours before your flight.

“When you have arrived at the airport in the country you are visiting, you are probably there for probably close to one hour or an hour and a half.  Having your players on their feet for that long can be more tiring than even the game itself.”

Mngqithi added that AS Maniema may also struggle at altitude while they are used to playing midweek and on the weekend.

“I would not say that they are in a better state. They are also coming up at altitude and trying to adapt since Wednesday and it might not be that easy for a team that is coming from the conditions that they are coming from.

“At altitude is always a little bit difficult, so I wouldn’t really say there is any advantage for them. Obviously the fact that we played midweek might mean something but pressure of playing midweek and weekend is something that we are now used to.

“Our body clock is even used to the adaptation process and I don’t think it is much of an issue and we believe we have a team that is capable of playing this game because we are used to playing these types of matches.”

Sundowns have only lost one match at home since 2017 when they were beaten 2-0 by CR Belouizdad of Algeria last season and Mngqithi said they won’t be focusing on what happened in the past.

“History sometimes in football does not really help much, you must always focus on what is in front of you, how best to deal with it and that is basically what we are trying to do.

“We just have to focus on the match at hand and see it through. The fact that we scored two goals away from home means nothing because if they score a goal it is a different story.

“We have to find a way to make sure that we still dominate all the facets of the game, still fight to win the match and give a good account of ourselves. We always try to approach each game as it comes and all the matches have their own dynamics.

“Away matches have their own dynamics and home games have their own dynamics and of late we have tried to win matches even away from home. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t win against Maniena in the DRC. Our own record has always been good but history at times is not the most important thing.”