Champions League semifinal spot beckons
Mamelodi Sundowns’ fairytale run in the African Champions League owes its inspiration to the club’s Absa Premiership triumph last season‚ according to coach Pitso Mosimane.
“We are riding on the momentum of the league. We are still flowing with what happened in the league‚” Mosimane said.
The Brazilians have one foot in the door to the Champions League semifinals after beating Zamalek in Egypt on Sunday.
After back-to-back victories against Nigerian side Enyimba and Zamalek in Cairo on Sunday‚ Downs are the only unbeaten team in their group.
They have bristled with confidence and this has resulted in their winning displays on the pitch.
Mosimane’s side have been playing arguably their best football in the continental competition and the coach credits the inspired performances to last season’s title-winning charge on the domestic front.
Downs lost only three games in 30 premiership outings and had amassed a mammoth 71 league points by the end of the campaign.
“When we played [Jomo] Cosmos‚ Polokwane [City] and then went to Ajax . . . it did not look good,” Mosimane said.
“After Ajax we have not stopped. Even when we faced Tuks the league was wrapped up‚ but we kept going.
“We went to [PSL runners-up] Wits and kept moving with the momentum. We were just in that whirlpool‚ a beautiful whirlpool. We just kept going‚ and it is a beautiful dream. I hope we don’t wake up.”
With Downs topping their group‚ they only need a draw against Zamalek in the Champions League return leg match in Atteridgeville next Wednesday to confirm their place in the semifinals.
Ending the group stages at the summit is a feat they have set their eyes firmly on.
But Mosimane insisted that he did not want to get ahead of himself just yet.
“We would like to finish on top‚” the coach said.
“It looks like we have enough points [to ensure qualification for the knockout stages]‚ but mathematically‚ we don’t. “When I say ‘we have’ – it means we do not have to win on Wednesday‚ as long as Zamalek beat Enyimba or they stop them with a draw.
“For them [Enyimba] to win in [Cairo] – I don’t think so‚ in my opinion after the games I saw. [Zamalek] will win in Cairo because it is their lifeline and they want to finish on top of the group.
“You have to be very careful of thinking you have arrived and missing the point of finishing on top.”