Brazilians desperate to bounce back

Brazilians desperate to bounce back
Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Jan 17, 2019. 13:15

Mamelodi Sundowns will look to bounce back in Group A of the 2018/19 CAF Champions League when they host Wydad Casablanca at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday, 19 January 2019, kick-off at 21h00 CAT.

Sundowns, the 2016 African champs, opened their group campaign with a disappointing 2-1 loss away to Nigeria’s Lobi Stars last weekend.

The Brazilians claimed the lead through Anthony Laffor, but the hosts struck back through Yaya Kone and Mathias Martins to secure all three points.

Coach Pitso Mosimane will demand a strong response from his team, though their squad is being stretched by a congested fixture list. On Wednesday night the South African champions played a domestic league match and they have little turnaround time ahead of this crunch encounter.

Wydad, meanwhile, got their group stage off to a flying start as they defeated Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas 5-2 in Morocco.

The 2017 continental champions scored through Ismail Haddad, Michael Babatunde, Zouhair El Moutaraji, Walid El Karti and Badie Aouk in a superb all-round showing.

Coach Faouzi Benzarti will likely set his team up to play on the counter against ‘Downs, and the hosts will need to be wary of the North Africans’ tactical and technical nous.

Sundowns and Wydad have been regular combatants in recent years: the Moroccan side ended the Brazilians’ reign as African champions with a penalty shootout win (after a 1-1 aggregate) draw in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Champions League.

The teams also clashed twice in the group stage of the 2018 competition, with the game in Tshwane ending 1-1 and the return in Casablanca going 1-0 in favour of the hosts.

The other Group A match this weekend sees ASEC host Lobi Stars in a West African derby in Abidjan earlier on Saturday. The game in Tshwane will be refereed by Angolan Helder Martins de Carvalho.

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