COMMENT: Can Sundowns bank on home ground advantage against Wydad Casablanca?

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Goal takes a look at how Masandawana have utilised their home ground advantage as they get ready themselves to face off against the Moroccans

Mamelodi Sundowns are no strangers to facing African giants in the Caf Champions League tournament and have always risen to the occasion when it matters the most.

As they prepare to face Moroccan giants  Wydad Casablanca on Saturday night, Goal takes a look at what has helped the Brazilians to use their home advantage.

Coach Pitso Mosimane’s men are under pressure to get off the mark as far as their Group B assignments are concerned after starting their campaign with a 2-1 loss away to Lobi Stars of Nigeria.

Pitso Mosimane, Mamelodi Sundowns, 2018


THE ADVANTAGE OF PLAYING AT HOME


The Brazilians will have to find inspiration as they face off against one of the most challenging opponents on the continent in Tshwane.

Speaking of inspiration, Sundowns have previously managed to bag a convincing 3-0 win against Zamalek of Egypt in 2016 in the opening leg of the final, and will now hope to apply that same drive, hunger and tactics to unsettle another North African outfit at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.

On the other hand, Sundowns have become trendsetters when it comes to drawing healthy crowds at home. They have launched several initiatives to mobilise their growing support base.

Sundowns PS

That has simply worked in their favour because it has benefited the hosts in most instances having the 'Yellow Nation' behind them.

With the Brazilians yet to suffer a defeat in their Premier Soccer League (PSL) title defence, this is something that they can also count on to perhaps take them over the line.

Although, another point worth a mention is that South African teams are not used to playing their home games at 21:00 and that could somehow work in favour of the North Africans.

In addition, Sundowns's only win against Wydad came at home, so playing in Atteridgeville could help Sundowns.


THE EXPERIENCE IN THEIR SQUAD


Having reached the group stages of the competition in four successive seasons, Sundowns have gained valuable experience along the way and that usually comes to the fore in their home games.

The likes of Hlompho Kekana, a man who initiates their play from midfield has been vital in their engine room whilst the absence of goalkeeper Denis Onyango will not cause headaches as they have Kennedy Mweene, who also happens to be a seasoned campaigner.

Kennedy Mweene, Mamelodi Sundowns, July 2018

However, Sundowns should be really concerned when it comes to their defence because the introduction of Rivaldo Coetzee, Mosa Lebusa and Lyle Lakay proved to be a costly risk in Nigeria against Lobi Stars which Wydad will look to expose.

This factor will definitely come into play as they still search for their opening win in the group, and another loss could dent their hopes of reaching the next stage.

Mosimane will need his tried and tested soldiers to manage the situation on the field because Wydad will employ all the tricks to settle for a point.


CAN SUNDOWNS BEAT WYDAD?


Tiyani Mabunda, Mamelodi Sundowns & Walid El Karti, Wydad Casablanca, May 2018

Based on the quality in their squad and the pressure they find themselves under, Sundowns have what it takes to get their first win of the group stage campaign. 

A loss will demote the 2016 African champions to the bottom of the table and that will not sit down very well with the technical team although they have made a number of changes in their squad concerning combinations which is understandable.

Looking at the North Africans, they started with a 5-2 win over Asec Mimosas, and they might be grateful to walk away from Tshwane with a point.

This means Sundowns must forget about sitting back and should instead look to take the game Wydad. 

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As the two familiar foes will meet for the fifth time, Sundowns will look to secure just their second win a victory over Wydad but this will only come if they possess the right mentality and fighting spirit whilst shutting the back door and minimizing errors.

Mosimane is aware that his next opponent is very smart and will only play to get a point, but he has the armoury to erase their loss in Nigeria and beat the 2017 champions.

As ‘Jingles’ has always preferred to play against the big giants chasing the ‘Big Fish’, Lebohang Maboe, Gaston Sirino, Anthony Laffor, Jeremy Brockie and Themba Zwane are just some of the players that will be entrusted with unlocking the visitor's defence.

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