Downs eyeing CAFCL QF spot

Pitso Mosimane © Backpagepix
Mamelodi Sundowns will look to take a major step toward the quarterfinals of the Caf Champions League when they face Saint George in Ethiopia on Saturday afternoon.

The teams will meet in their Group C clash at the Addis Ababa Stadium, with kick-off set for 3pm CAT.

The defending African champions come into the match place second on the standings, three points adrift of leaders Esperance de Tunis, but very much under threat from third-placed Saint George (level on points with ‘Downs) and fourth-placed AS Vita (just two points back).

A clutch match away in African competition is never easy, but the Brazilians have been far more impressive on their travels in this group, meaning Pitso Mosimane’s side will head to East Africa with realistic hope of claiming all three points.

‘Downs are unbeaten away from home in Africa this year and have claimed four of their five group stage points on the road. In the last Matchday they held Esperance to a goalless draw in Tunis and were arguably the better team.

If they can continue their strong away form and claim three points in Addis Ababa, it will put them in prime position to qualify for the last eight.

In fact, if ‘Downs do win and the other Group C match between AS Vita and Esperance in Kinshasa produces anything other than a home win, then the Tunisian and South African giants will both secure progression with a match to spare.

Mosimane isn’t thinking that far ahead, with the Sundowns coach happy to just keep his side in the hunt and read the terrain.

"You've got to be clever and see the bigger picture, and progress slowly until the six games finish. When the sixth game is finished, if you are number one it would be better but, even if you are number two you need to move on slowly,” the former Bafana Bafana coach explained.

"There's a lot of pressure on both of us [Sundowns and Esperance]. We are going to Addis, which is a bit difficult, but also Esperance is going to Kinshasha, which is not easy.

"We'll see how it goes, but the best thing is, after the match in Addis, we need to remain [at least] number two.”

Saint George held Sundowns to a goalless draw when the teams met on Matchday 1 in Tshwane back in May, and come into the match having lost 1-2 away to AS Vita in the previous round of games.