The 2018 Caf Champions League group stages resumes on Saturday with several mouth-watering encounters, none more so than the intriguing battles that will transpire in Group C.
In the pick of the group’s action, all eyes will fall on the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Tshwane as the tournament’s defending champions, Wydad Casablanca will come up against former champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The game has all the makings of an instant thriller considering the recent history between the two sides. Last season it was the Moroccan giants who knocked out Sundowns, who were the then reigning champions in the quarterfinals, before eventually going on to record their second Champions League triumph in their history.
Nonetheless, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane will almost certainly be eyeing the three points and his confidence will be at an all-time high after the Brazilians recently reclaimed the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) title for and eighth time.
The 53-year-old mentor has built a team filled with experience and quality but will be without his in-form attacker Percy Tau who is suspended for the game against the North Africans.
Tau is the club’s current top scorer having scored 11 goals in Sundowns’ domestic campaign and would have been one of the players to watch along with South American Gaston Sirino who has certainly proven his worth since joining Sundowns in January.
Nonetheless, this will be the third meeting between the two giants of African football. The game is evenly poised as a contest with both sides having won one game apiece. Wydad though, will look to use their experience to get the better of Sundowns.
Despite having undergone a short period of instability at the start of their season, leading to previous coach Hussein Ammouta parting ways with the club, Tunisian Faouzi Benzarti has almost certainly brought back the winning feeling at the club.
The Moroccan champions are currently unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions and will hope to carry that form into their Champions League clash. Sundowns on the other end have proven to be a completely different beast this season, having only lost twice in their last 20 matches.
To reach this stage of the competition, Sundowns easily fended off Rwanda’s Rayon Sport over two legs, but what will be worrying for Wydad is although their 7-2 victory over WAC was impressive, they would suffer a 2-0 defeat in the away leg. While Wydad still advanced, that will certainly give Mosimane and his troops something to think about as they host the Moroccans on Saturday night.
The clash promises to be another exciting contest with both sides knowing that victory in the opening match could potentially boost their chances of making further history as they look the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in their history.
On paper though, Horoya who are the reigning Guinean champions will be favourites. Not only are they showing signs of steady progress having reached the group stages of last year’s Caf Confederation Cup, they are enjoying a fruitful period domestically, having only lost once in their last six games. This is highly contrasting to Saturday’s hosts who have only won one of their last five games.
Nevertheless, both sides have earned the right to compete amongst Africa’s elite and are sure to prove difficult opponents in a tough group.