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Wydad Casablanca v Mamelodi Sundowns

COMMENT: Can anyone stop Mamelodi Sundowns now?

3:08 PM MYT 25/04/2019
Wydad Casablanca v Mamelodi Sundowns, Achraf Dari and Hlompho Kekana, March 2019
With a potential double on the cards, Masandawana have it all to play for when they take on the Moroccans in their first leg semi-final

After registering a 5-1 aggregate win over Egyptian giants Al Ahly, questions are being asked about how far can Mamelodi Sundowns go in the competition and can anyone stop them?

Masandawana have now set up a date against emerging rivals Wydad Casablanca, who they will meet for the third time in this year’s competition on Friday which should make for an exciting spectacle to watch.

However, Sundowns are competing on two fronts with them still firmly in the league title race which has brought about its own set of challenges considering the hectic schedule that they have had to deal with.

Sundowns though remain unperturbed, resolute and confident as they continue to go about their business.

Perhaps the only thing standing in Sundowns’ way of them conquering Africa, is the Brazilians themselves.

The win over Al Ahly has undoubtedly asserted Sundowns’ rise on the continental stage as they are now one of the most feared teams, and taking into account that the core of this team were part of the team that conquered the continent in 2016, the stars could once again be aligning for the Tshwane giants.

Although Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, in particular, has an unenviable balancing act to deal with the club chasing the league and Champions League titles, this is where his experience also comes to the fore.

Over the past five years or more, he has become accustomed to the gruelling schedule that his side have had to deal with due to their consistent success on the continent and he has been able to work around this by building a squad rich in depth which allows him to rest some of the senior players such as Hlompho Kekana and Denis Onyango from time to time.

Arguably, he has built a squad stronger than he had during the 2016 triumph despite the departures of Percy Tau, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly, by bringing in the likes of Lebohang Maboe and Gaston Sirino among other as well as bolstering his backline.

Nonetheless, turning the attention on Friday’s showdown, Sundowns departed for Morocco only hours after beating Chippa United.

While Mosimane and his technical team will use all their knowledge and resources to have the players ready in time for the match fatigue is a real concern.

This does not mean Wydad will walk over Sundowns.

Generally, away games on the continent are always seen as tough expeditions and wins do not come easy.

Clubs are expected to be a lot more defensive, and this might suit a rather tired looking Sundowns. 

So, a draw against the Moroccan giants will not be a train smash as Sundowns have already beaten Wydad once in Tshwane this season and damage limitation could be the order of the day.

Sundowns' fate is likely to rest on the fortunes of the first leg though, and if Sundowns are able to walk away from the match with at least a draw or a defeat by a slender margin, there really is nothing stopping the defending PSL champions from once again being at the top of Africa.