With the Caf Champions League group stages reaching its conclusion on Tuesday, all eyes will fall on Group C.
While Wydad Casablanca have already advanced into the next round, Mamelodi Sundowns and Horoya will fight it out in Tshwane - with a draw enough to secure Horoya’s place amongst the continent’s elite in the next round.
This will put immense pressure on Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane’s shoulders, who is determined to reach the knockout rounds of Africa’s most lucrative inter-club competition for the third year running.
While Sundowns have an opportunity to advance with only maximum points guaranteeing their passage into the next round, it has not been the most impressive of campaigns by the Tshwane giants.
After losing two of his most influential players in Khama Billiat and Percy Tau, Mosimane has been on a rebuilding mission. This has seen Sundowns secure just one win in the tournament thus far, which came at home against group strugglers Togo-Port.
Sundowns were most recently edged out in Casablanca by Wydad setting up a monumental battle in Atteridgeville on Tuesday evening.
It certainly won’t be easy for Sundowns, who will come up against a rather impressive Horoya. The Guinean champions have pushed above their weight and have made home advantage count in this year’s competition.
Sundowns were even held to a 2-2 draw at Horoya’s fortress in Conakry.
Horoya have tasted just one defeat in their last 10 games in all competitions making them the form team heading into the encounter.
The former African champions on the other end were recently edged out in the MTN8 against Cape Town City. Mosimane though, rested majority of the squad that is likely to do battle on Tuesday as he prioritised the continental tie.
This could see the likes of Hlompho Kekana and Sundowns’ joint top scorer in the Champions League with two goals, Gaston Sirino, return to the line-up.
Sundowns will be hoping that they will have adequate firepower to capitalise on a Horoya defence which has conceded seven goals in their five continental games.
However, the Guinean’s cannot be taken for granted and Sundowns’ defence will need to be alert. The away side have scored seven goals in the group stages, two goals more than their opponents.
They also possess one of the tournament’s most lethal attackers. Ocansey Mandela has netted four goals in the tournaments so far and is the club’s leading goal scorer, while Brefo Mensah is their dangerman. The 25-year-old Ghana-born playmaker has been directly involved in four goals in the competition.
Nonetheless, with so much at stake going into the encounter, Horoya’s attack will be expected to execute a well thought out game plan.
But Horoya should be wary as Sundowns are likely to come out the gates blazing and that’s not to mention their tendency to score early as the Brazilians have netted nearly 68% of their goals in minutes 15-30.
Meanwhile, in the group’s other clash, Wydad travel to Lomé for what can only be described as a dead rubber. With Wydad having not only secured qualification for the knockout rounds but also a group win, they may look to rest several of their stars.
For Togo-Port it will be more about ending their campaign on a high as they have already been eliminated. Players such as Issifou Bourahana and Ayi Hunlede, who are the club’s leading goal scorers have been impressive and will surely look to use the opportunity to end their campaign off on a high.
The Stade General Eyadema has been Togo-Port’s fortress of late as they last tasted defeat at home in November which could give Wydad something to worry about.
But the home side’s current form in all competitions has seen them only win two of their last five games which doesn’t instil much confidence going into a clash with the defending champions.
Moreover, if Wydad do give talisman Ismail El Haddad a run out, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of increasing his goals tally in the tournament. The Moroccan has already registered five goals and is one of the continent’s most impressive players.
Facing off against the likes of Haddad and company could be daunting for Togo-Port especially when considering that Wydad are on a run of 15 games without defeat in all competitions.
|Match Number||Fixture||Date||Venue||Kick-off Time||TV channel|
|1||Mamelodi Sundowns v Horoya AC||Aug 28||Lucas Moripe Stadium||18:00pm||SS9|
|2||Togo-Port v Wydad Casablanca||Aug 28||Stade Général Eyadema||18:00pm||N/A|