Thursday Mar 31, 2022. 14:23
Mamelodi Sundowns will be looking to keep their unbeaten record in the CAF Champions League intact when they welcome Al Merrikh to the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Brazilians have already qualified for the quarter-finals as Group A winners after registering four victories from their opening five games in the competition.
Masandawana clinched top spot in the group courtesy of a 4-2 triumph over Al Hilal in Sudan on matchday five, which took them to 13 points, six clear of Al Ahly in second place.
Al-Zaeem were actually responsible for denying Sundowns a 100 per cent win ratio, having held them to a goalless draw in Cairo on matchday two.
Downs co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is hoping the Yellow Nation will come out in their droves to back the team despite the tie being viewed as a dead rubber by some.
“One would want to urge our supporters to come in numbers to support us and not treat this game as a dead rubber, we don’t treat it as a dead rubber,” Mngqithi said in his pre-match press conference.
“Al Merrikh is one of the biggest teams in Sudan and is a team that has won three championships in a row, taking over from Al Hilal, which made them to be one of the biggest teams on the continent.
“We would love to play this match with our supporters and enjoy the drumbeat and at the stadium and see how the team responds because the fact that we did not have supporters has been a big equaliser in terms of how matches were approached.
“So we would really love to see our people coming. I plead to the Yellow Nation to support us because this is a dress rehearsal of what we are expecting to see either in the Nedbank Cup or the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League. The supporters are an integral part of football and without supporters it’s not the same.”
The 19-time Sudanese champions have no chance of progressing from the group as they bring up the rear on four points following three defeats from their five encounters.
A 3-1 reverse to the Red Eagles in the Egyptian capital last time out all but ended their hopes of a first-ever CAF Champions League crown.