Rhulani Mokwena Caf Champions LeagueBackpagepix

Can Mamelodi Sundowns reverse their slump in form for Caf Champions League quarterfinal against CR Belouizdad?

Mamelodi Sundowns and Manchester City have a number of similarities that would suggest that the Premier Soccer League giants and Premier League heavyweights are cut from the same cloth.

Bafana Ba Style enjoy the backing of Caf president Patrice Motspe's billions while City are backed by Sheikh Mansour's seemingly bottomless bank account.

Both sides have been somewhat immovable and unshakable forces in their respective leagues, with Sundowns claiming a sixth DStv Premiership crown on the spin while the blue half of Manchester have brought home four league titles in the last five seasons.

Article continues below

But the biggest parrel, however, that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of these heavyweights, is how continental glory seems to evade them every season. Downs did win the Caf Champions League in 2016 but have consistently crumbled in the knockout stages ever since, much like Pep Guardiola's team have struggled to lift the coveted trophy with the big ears.

Mamelodi Sundowns Caf Champions League winners 2016Backpagepix

One player who was a key figure in Sundowns' Champions League triumph some seven years ago is Wayne Arendse. The former defender enjoyed much success under Pitso Mosimane at Chloorkop before he hung up his boots.

Given Masandawana's recent dip in form, where they have uncharacteristically only scored two goals in their last four outings and were booted out of the Nedbank Cup by Stellenbosch, the picture looks quite bleak as they gear up to take on CR Belouizdad in the first-leg of the quarter-final this Saturday in Algeria.

"A similar thing happened to us where we lost the MTN8 final to Bidvest Wits and we just picked up from there," Arendse tells GOAL.

Wayne Arendse Caf Champions LeagueBackpagepix

"They wrapped up the league and the results after that were not forthcoming as they wanted. In a way, the loss against Stellenbosch came at the right time, it is a wake-up call and they can now put all their focus into the Champions League. If they had to choose which trophy to pick up, I'm sure it would be the Champions League," he added.

What makes matters worse for Sundowns is the never-ending speculation surrounding the future of two key members — senior coach Manqoba Mngqithi and midfielder Andile Jali. While the former might remain at the club, the writing is on the wall for Jali's imminent exit, but that should not unsettle the rest of the team, Arendse suggests.

"Every club has its issues and things that they must sort out. All clubs in the PSL deal with this where players' contracts are not renewed and all that, it is normal. They have a big enough squad to do the job because we need to understand that people come and go. This should not destabilize the team, there is enough quality," continued the 38-year-old.

Whenever he had a bad game, Arendse would turn a blind eye to the critics and naysayers, and instead, he would roll back to the rather more pleasant moments, which is what he advises the likes of Peter Shalulile, Cassius Maliula and company to do.

Teboho Mokoena & Peter Shalulile, Mamelodi Sunowns, March 2023Backpagepix

"These guys need to go back to those videos of when they were scoring goals and keeping clean sheets, that's where the motivation is going to come from and they need to take that and go forward with it.

"They just need to relax and look at what they have been doing in the Champions League this season. Some people will say there is concern but I don't think so. The bottom line is to never play the occasion because now it is all about getting into the semifinals. At the end of the day it is just another 90 minutes," Arendse concluded.

After making close to 340 appearances in his career, Arendse hung up his boots and is now cutting his teeth as a coach with Highlands Parks' under-19 side, while he has also completed his Caf C coaching Licence.