By Busisiwe Mokwena
Win or go home. That is the simple equation for Mamelodi Sundowns going into their CAF Champions League match against AS Togo Port tomorrow. After a loss and two draws, the Brazilians are in a difficult position at the bottom of their group with three matches to go. A draw with AS Togo Port at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Friday night may not be enough for the 2016 African champions to qualify for the tournament’s quarterfinals.
Even if they fail to qualify for the last eight, it is still impressive that the Brazilians have taken part in the continental competition for five consecutive years. It means that, unlike most PSL clubs, Downs virtually haven’t had an off-season for those five years because the South African off-season coincides with the CAF Champions group stages. Downs coach, Pitso Mosimane says the recent FIFA World Cup brought a welcome three-week rest for the team.
“The World Cup gave us a break, a rest. Now the program starts and we will go to off-season like AmaZulu does. I can also have a rest, go on holiday and live a normal life. Five years has been hectic. You are a human being and you can’t work like that. Even Pep (Guardiola) and (Jose) Mourinho don’t work like that,” explains Mosimane.
Jingles says being able to feature in the continental competition for this long is a sign that the club is serious about international football. He says this has elevated and affirms Sundowns’ status in African football as a CAF Champions League team.
But in order for the Tshwane side to live up to their reputation as one of the best in the continent, they will need to win their remaining matches starting with AS Togo on Friday night.
“It’s in our hands, we can get five points. You never know what’s going to happen in Casa (Wydad Casablanca) but, normally, not many people back from Casa. We are hoping Casa wins. We win, then Casa wins, we will be second on the log then we can settle it here with Horoya here,” he says.