Sundowns pray Madiba Magic sees them through in last 8

SA side face Belouizdad at Algiers venue named after Mandela

Neville Khoza Journalist
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says their experience on the continent will come in handy when they play in Algeria.
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says their experience on the continent will come in handy when they play in Algeria.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena emphasised the importance of getting a victory against a dangerous CR Belouizdad in the CAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers tomorrow (9pm).

Sundowns have disappointingly crashed out in the quarterfinal four times, losing twice to Al Ahly and once to Petro de Luanda and Wydad Casablanca.

“It is an incredible honour, a privilege to be able to put our foot in a stadium that is named after probably one of the greatest SA human beings,” Mokwena told the club media department.

“Even though his [Mandela] humility would never have allowed us to say that, he made an incredible contribution to who and what we are as South Africa. But like we always say, let’s play the match and not the occasion, and part of the occasion is the name of the stadium. The biggest focus for us is to play the match and do whatever we can to pull off a victory.”

The Algerian side are one of the few teams to have beaten Sundowns in this competition in the last few years in SA.

They won 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld two years ago in a match where the Brazilians had already qualified for the quarterfinals.

And they are fully aware that they will need to be on top of their game to get a positive result heading into the second leg.

After losing to Stellenbosch in the Nedbank Cup last week, Sundowns travelled to Algeria via Egypt on Monday and arrived on Tuesday, and Mokwena said their experience in travelling in the continent will help them.

“Fortunately, we have experienced staff and players who know how to handle the demands of a trip like this," he said.

"From there, it is about settling in and we have had our first training, which was more of an activation session by sports scientists.

“We had two training sessions already. We are working on football and moving into a bit more specific work about what to do for the match. A lot of work is being done behind the scenes with video sessions and trying to profile the opposition.

“We are also trying to analyse our performances and see where we can get better and improve.”    

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