Playing against Al Ahly in the past was playing against not only the most successful team in the world but also one of the toughest teams on the continent. Mamelodi Sundowns has experienced that several times.
There is a different turn of events though, ahead of their meeting in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League, with the first leg slated for Friday, May 15, in Egypt.
The African champions, coached by Pitso Mosimane, the most successful coach in the history of Mamelodi Sundowns both on the continent and domestically.
The reason Sundowns goalkeeper and former Cranes captain Denis Onyango thinks their reunion with his former boss will be interesting, but at the same time very hard.
“We are facing our former coach,” Onyango told Sundowns’ official website before adding; “It makes it a little bit interesting for us and also for them.”
“We anticipate a very tough encounter, looking at the fact that we have played against them I think this is the third time in a row now.”
A lot is at stake, Al Ahly are looking for a ninth African title, while on the other hand, Sundowns are chasing their second continental crown, and a first since 2016, Onyango wants to take it one game at a time.
“We are looking forward to the encounter, and we will try to get a positive result away from home so that by the time we play the second leg, it is not as tough as the first leg.”
“We believe that we will get positive results on the weekend,” he added.
Onyango also knows the demands that come with playing against teams from the Maghreb: “When you play a team of Al Ahly’s calibre or Zamalek or any team from North Africa, you need to work extremely hard.”
“You need to have tactical discipline from all the players, and you must be able to take your chances because if you do not take your chances, you get punished. It is a team with a lot of quality players, and we need to be very, very careful with them.”
“So we need to take our chances and at least get an away goal, but our main objective is to try and win the game and see how the second leg will play out because you can never count on the second leg without getting positive results from the first leg,” he concluded.
The first leg is set to take place on Saturday, May 15 at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo, with the second leg scheduled to be played a week later in Pretoria.
Quarter-final fixtures and kick-off times
May 14, 2200hrs – MC Alger vs Wydad
May 15, 1900hrs – CR Belouizdad vs Esperance Tunis
May 15, 1900hrs – Kaizer Chiefs vs Simba SC
May 15, 2200hrs – Al Ahly vs Mamelodi Sundowns