Friday Apr 28, 2023. 11:00
Mamelodi Sundowns will be out to seal a semifinal berth in the CAF Champions League when they welcome CR Belouizdad for a return-leg match at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane on the afternoon of Saturday 29 April 2023, kick-off at 15:00 CAT.
Sundowns took firm control of the quarterfinal tie when they claimed an emphatic 4-1 away win over the Algerian side at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Algiers last weekend.
The South African champions raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes thanks to strikes from Peter Shalulile and Neo Maema.
CRB’s Miloud Rebiai gave the North Africans a glimmer of hope when he headed home in injury time at the end of the first half, but it took only six minutes of the second stanza for Shalulile to strike again, and a late fourth from substitute Cassius Mailula ensured that ‘Downs pencilled their name into the semifinal slot.
Yet despite their strong position, coach Rulani Mokwena insists that only half the job is done: “Stranger things have happened in football [than a comeback from 4-1 down]. There is a lot of humility, we beat a very good side that we still have to face in Pretoria but it is only halfway.”
He added, “I don’t have to have an opinion about the opposition because I have to give a lot of respect to their technical team. Also out of respect for the fact that it is only the halfway mark of the tie.
“It is the quarterfinal of the Champions League, it is tough and we should be under no illusions that the scoreline represents how physical and demanding this game was for us.”
Belouizdad coach Nabil Kouki acknowledged the quality displayed by Sundowns in the first leg and admitted that they have only a minor hope of turning the tie around.
“I think we had the misfortune to come across this opponent in the quarterfinals,” said Kouki. “Everyone feared this team, which testifies to the level of the South Africans.”
He added, “With this defeat in the first leg, the return match will not be easy, but what is certain, we will give everything in the field.”
Mauritanian referee Abdel Aziz Mohamed Bouh will be in charge of the match at Loftus Versfeld, with the aggregate winners going on to face Tanzania’s Simba SC or Moroccan heavyweights and current CAFCL title holders Wydad Casablanca in the semifinals next month.
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