Sundowns heading to hostile terrain!

What awaits Sundowns, who won the first leg 1-0 at Loftus Versfeld three weeks ago, is a torrid task in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s southern-most city. Over the years Mazembe have turned their home Stade TP Mazembe into a fortress, where visitors find life difficult. Two years ago South African side Orlando Pirates endured all sorts of trouble when they visited Mazembe there.

Off the pitch and on it, the 1995 CAF Champions League winners had to battle their way through. Pirates lost 1-0 in Lubumbashi but went through to the next stage after winning 3-2 on aggregate. In Lubumbashi, Pirates played with 10 men and Mazembe were awarded two penalties, which the late Senzo Meyiwa saved.

Intimidation is set to be the name of the game. Football analyst and SABC sport commentator Christopher Bongo says Mazembe players and supporters will give their all in a quest to overturn the first leg result and get victory, which will take them to the group stages of the CAF Champions League.

“Two hours before the game, close to 40000 supporters will fill the stadium. Mazembe supporters will do everything possible to make sure they unsettle Sundowns players. It’s going to be a tough game because both sides are hungry for success,” said Bongo, who hails from DRC.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane will want his men to fight like Pirates did in order for the Brazilians to shrug off Mazembe en route to the group stages. Mosimane knows that only men willing to die with their boots on can give him the victory he yearns for.

“Lubumbashi has got its old ways. It’s got its own story. What’s important is to make sure that we are mentally ready. You have got to be soldiers to enter that space. We have got to be ready to deliver.

We have the team good enough to deliver. On the field of play, we think we are okay. We can deliver. Obviously we pray and hope that we can get proper and fair officiating. That’s how football should be done. The way we treated them well here, we expect them to treat us well also,” said Mosimane.

As far as Mazembe are concerned, Mosimane may be asking too much. The Champions League tops the Congolese side’s list of priorities. They have dominated their domestic league in the last five years. They have had more than just a taste of Champions League success, having won it four times.

Mosimane is aware that the Mazembe attackers will be taking no prisoners on the pitch: “They have got a powerful attack. Rainford Kalaba, Roger Assale and others. They also have a very good midfield and we must also look after set pieces and corner kicks because they have got strong tall guys who are good in aerial strength. At the end of the day, we have been scoring and we believe we will score,” he said.


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